16 October 2009

Nigeria: U.S. Probes Boko Haram

Several months after the violent outburst of a religious sect, Boko Haram, leading to the killing of over 150 persons in parts of the north, Justice Minister, Michael Aondoakaa, yesterday said investigation into the incident was still ongoing.

This is even as a delegation of the United States is in Nigeria to probe the sectarian crisis. It is recalled that President Umaru Yar'Adua had in the wake of the crisis in August, set up a committee headed by National Security Adviser(NSA) Gen. Seriki Muhktar, with a promise that a report would be ready in five days.

But receiving the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom led by Mr. Leonard Leo in his office in Abuja, Aondoakaa said investigation to uncover the underlying motive behind the Boko Haram crisis, was still ongoing adding that "such crisis does not have the support of government as might be perceived."

He also absolved the federal government of any complicity in such violent religious crisis saying it "is plain criminality by some people who manipulate gullible people, using religious sentiments to create unnecessary problems".

He however solicited the support of the commissioner in the area of investigation, to separate genuine religious fundamentalists fomenting conflict, from criminals or anti-establishment elements, as the perpetrators of the Boko Haram crisis who committed arson against police station as well as killing police officers.

Earlier, Mr. Leo said they were in the country to chat with the government on how to ensure effective investigation into, and prosecution of perpetrators of such crisis just as he said the United States was disturbed about the recent Boko Haram issue.

He said his government was interested in assisting Nigeria government in rendering technical expertise and capacity building to encourage prosecution of sectarian violence.

On the nature of his commission, he said it is an independent US government arm, whose purpose is to make recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and sometimes the Congress on how US can make issue of religious freedom a more central part of the country's foreign policy.

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