Six days after the fundamentalist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, set conditions for ceasefire, President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday described its members and sponsors as “uncivilised”
“Terminating innocent lives through terrorist acts is primitive, so perpetrators and sponsors of terrorism through Boko Haram cannot be anything but uncivilised,” Jonathan said.
He spoke in Dutse, Jigawa State as he ended his two-day visit to the state.
Stressing that it was wrong for any individual or group to resort to killing to express grievances, the President said Boko Haram’s activities were inhibiting national development.
Jonathan therefore admonished all Nigerians to speak out in condemnation of terrorist acts in the country.
Boko Haram has since 2009 attacked military and police facilities, worship centres and drinking joints among others.
No fewer than 1,000 people have been killed in attacks by the sect members.
Last Thursday, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz, who is believed to be the second-in-command to the leader of the sect, said they were willing to negotiate provided the government met their conditions .
Some of the terms are that the negotiation must hold in Saudi Arabia; that a former Head of State, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, must lead other negotiators;and payment of compensation to members of the sect killed ‘unjustly.’
Before the President’s outburst, there had been indications that the government was already considering paying the compensation demanded and that it had began preparing for the talk with the sect.
A very dependable source in the Presidency had on Sunday said, “I can confirm to you that it is true that the group is currently talking with the government.
“The good news is that they are talking and they have promised to cease fire once some of their demands are met. For conditions that are not difficult to meet such as the demand for Diyya for their 24 identified members that were killed, the government may meet such demands.
“Government can also give critical thought to those found to be innocent, but are being detained or prosecuted, particularly women and children as demanded by the group since they do not have any objection to the trial of those genuinely involved in crime.”
However, the Christian Association of Nigeria on Tuesday opposed payment of compensation to members of the sect.
CAN said it would also demand compensation should the Federal Government compensate members of Boko Haram.
The umbrella body for Christians in the country also berated the Amnesty International over its report on human rights abuses against the violent sect.
It said that the AI had not been commenting on the killings and maiming of Christians by Boko Haram.
CAN Secretary-General, Dr. Musa Asake, said paying compensation to Boko Haram members would be an insult to Christians.
Asake said, “These are the people that are killing us and they are looking for compensation. The Federal Government should not even listen to that because the fact that we Christians are keeping quiet does not mean that we are dumb.
“We are looking for peace and we want peace. But when they begin to talk of compensation, the question is, compensation for what? After they have killed people, made many children orphans and destroyed our churches and they are asking for compensation”
He said that the association would demand compensation for churches destroyed and members killed by Boko Haram.
The CAN secretary stated, “When you begin to talk of compensation, how can you compensate somebody who has been the breadwinner of an entire family and he is killed? How much will you give to keep that family going?
“If that is the dimension that Boko Haram wants, we are ready. If government pays them compensation, then we too will demand compensation for our people that have been killed.”
He also reiterated CAN’s opposition to the sect’s choice of Buhari as a mediator between it and the government. He said that CAN would not accept Saudi Arabia as the venue for any peace meeting.
“Why Saudi Arabia? Why Buhari? Why these people that they are mentioning? We are very interested. They did not mention any Christian; they are killing us and they want Muslims to go and decide it. To decide what?” he asked.
Berating the AI, Asake said that the human rights group should disclose its source of information.
He said, “I read what the human rights people said but I wish they could tell me their source. All these killings have been going on, where were the human rights people? They are just showing up now to say there is abuse and rape without telling us the source. If I get the source and validate it, then I can comment.
“What have they said about the Christians that are being killed? Is that not human rights abuse? How did they know what has happened? This thing is taking a different dimension and where are they getting their information? Who is feeding them with that information? I have not read where the human rights people are condemning what Boko Haram is doing to Christians?”
But a traditional leader and Saridauna Samaru in the Zazau Emirate Council, Zaria, in Kaduna State, Alhaji Mohammed Bello Sa’id, supported payment of compensation to Boko Haram.
He said if compensating the families of the killed members of the sect would ensure peace and stability in the country, then the Federal Government should do so.
“We are interested in what will bring peace to the country and if compensating Boko Haram family members will bring peace, so be it,” he said.