Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka said Friday that trying to end a deadly insurgency by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram through dialogue would amount to “abysmal appeasement.”
Soyinka spoke just as the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, again yesterday, asked the Presidency and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP to find a way of tackling rising terrorism being visited on the land by the Boko Haram sect and stop linking the former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, with it.
President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this year encouraged the Islamists, blamed for hundreds of deaths since 2009, to publicly state their demands, and his government has confirmed that “back-channel” talks with the group are ongoing.“When I say, ‘don’t talk to murderers,’ that is exactly what I mean,” Soyinka told foreign media at an international conference in Lagos.“Don’t talk to mass murderers.
Don’t talk to those who have made the killing of innocent people their philosophy,” he added. Soyinka described the violence blamed on the Islamists, which has included attacks on security forces, government officials and Christians in church, as “completely out of control.”
“Then you, the assaulted, say, ‘please, come and talk to us. Please, we don’t know what you want'. What kind of language is that? That is the language of abysmal appeasement,” he said on the sidelines of the Kuramo Conference on development. Nigerian security forces have so far been unable to stamp out the violence and have themselves been accused of massive abuses in combatting the Islamists.
Amnesty International has charged the military with carrying out summary executions, particularly in the northeast where Boko Haram is based, and Human Rights Watch has said the military could be guilty of crimes against humanity in combating the group. “There has been the condemnable scorched earth policy of the military,” Soyinka said, adding that he believed that such killings had occurred.
According to him, the insurgency was a “security issue” that posed a new kind of challenge for Nigeria’s military. Violence linked to Boko Haram is estimated to have claimed 2,800 lives since 2009, with the worst violence concentrated in the mainly Muslim north. The group has said it wants to create an Islamic state in the north, but its demands have continuously shifted.
Meanwhile, the CPC has maintained its allegation that Boko Haram was a creation of the PDP and that Buhari had nothing whatsoever to do with the sect. CPC in a statement released by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, condemned the desperate attempt by the Presidency and the PDP to link its leader with Boko Haram, warning them to desist from doing so, forthwith.
The party maintained that it was not in doubt that PDP was the author of the political variant of Boko Haram, since the original founders of the sect had been murdered in 2009.
The party recalled certain statements credited to President Goodluck Jonathan to the effect that he was aware of those behind the Boko Haram in Nigeria and wondered why the administration had not used the security apparatus at its disposal to quell its spread.
Fashakin also said that it was unfair for the PDP to look for a scapegoat in the person of Buhari when the former National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi, had openly accused the party of being responsible for the spread of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
The party’s spokesman also wondered why the Presidency and the PDP did not react to the statement in court by a SSS operative that a PDP senator gave the phone number of the Minister of Justice to Boko Haram members all in a bid to influence the outcome of the Borno State Governorship election in favour of PDP.
It noted that since the advent of the fourth republic, the PDP-led government induced Political Boko Haram had inflicted incalculable damage on the nation than any other regime in the nation’s history.
The party noted, “Since the advent of the fourth republic, which effectively started on May 29, 1999, aside the agitation of the Niger Delta militants for resource control, there has not been any structured infrastructure for mass attack on innocents and religious institutions as has been seen in the last 25 months.
“In January 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan told a bewildered nation, still smarting from the spate of murderous bombings in the Northern parts of the country, that his government had been infiltrated by Boko-Haram.
“The cogent questions are: How did the President know this as a fact? With the elaborate surveillance and espionage infrastructure under his watch, why has the Nation not been informed on the unmasking of these fifth columnists in his government?
“Since the preponderance of the cabinet members in his government consist of Party folks, has this challenge been finally resolved in the usual PDP ‘family’ affair?
“In February, 2012, Mohammed Ali Ndume, a serving PDP Senator from Borno South, was arrested for links with Boko Haram. In March 2012, the Senator deposed to an affidavit, wherein he stated that all his activities with Boko-Haram are known to a top member of the Presidency. There has not been any official rebuttal on the assertion, which realistically connotes acquiescence,” the party noted.
The party also condemned the activities of the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the President, Dr. Doyin Okupe, saying that he was not helping Mr. President to do what is right in the matter. Okupe declined to speak on the party’s claims, saying that he would react at the appropriate time.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Abubakar, yesterday ordered a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the alleged rumour that a suspected Boko Haram kingpin, Muhammed Sani escaped from police custody.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that the police authorities were at a loss over what led to the alleged rumour, some few months after one Kabiru Sokoto escaped from the cell, pointing out that Sani was in custody. They wondered if the rumour about Sani’s purported escape was not an attempt by some people to discredit the force by peddling such false information.
Spokesman of the Police Force, Chief Superintendent, Frank Mba, confirmed the IGP’s directive for detailed investigation of the matter, noting that there was no iota of truth in the information that a Boko Haram suspect escaped from police custody.