9 August 2011

Nigeria: Boko Haram - Sultan Advocates Dialogue

Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar 111 , has called on the Federal Government to identify individuals behind the Boko Haram debacle and engage them in dialogue with a view to resolving the issue.

Speaking during a dinner with journalists in his palace in Sokoto on Sunday, the monarch maintained that by identifying the leadership of the sect, it would enable the Committee on Security Challenges in the North-east set up recently by government to urge the military and the sect to stop hostilities and embrace dialogue.

He noted that many innocent people were killed in Borno State in the last few months, pointing out that, dialogue is very critical because even wars are fought to keep peace.

The monarch chided those individuals who are calling on the federal government not to dialogue with the sect, saying they don't want peace to reign in the country.

According to him, the situation in Borno is very complex because those behind the violence are not known and as such the onus is on the committee to look out for the leadership of the sect and engage them in talks in order to identify their demands.

"The situation in Borno is very complex; you cannot dialogue with somebody you don't know, so the committee should look out for the leadership of the sect and find out what are their terms. They should try to find who are their leaders and spokesmen and reach an accord with them in order to have a ceasefire,'

"In fact, the committee should find a way to appeal to the leadership of the sect to stop bombing and come out from their hiding place while the Joint Task Force should also ceasefire in order to stop the bloodshed. Talking is very important and is critical to finding an amicable solution to the violence," the monarch advised.

The Sultan observed that field operation was the most difficult aspect of military operations due to the fact that the members of the religious sect are not known.

He described the wanton killing of innocent citizens as pathetic and stressed the need for the JTF to adhere to the rules of engagement in order to minimise casualties.

On Islamic banking, the monarch emphasised that most people are struggling to meet up with their basic needs and lack the money to patronise such banks.

He described Islamic banking as an economic venture and wondered why Nigerians are dissipating their energy on the matter while at the same time ignoring myriad of problems bedeviling the polity.

"We have a lot of problems and most people cannot even have three square meals. There are problems of electricity, lack of food, poverty and increase in price of food items. Let us face the real problems and try to tackle them. Forget about Islamic banking, catholic banking or Jewish banking and leave it to those who want it,"

"Actually, I don't see it as any issue that will generate controversy and what I know is that so many political leaders who happen to be Christians are not even against Islamic banking," the monarch averred.

He, therefore, urged journalists to be professional and patriotic while discharging their assignments by refraining from acts capable of tarnishing the image of the country.

The Sultan added that the role of the media is very critical in the economy of any nation, hence the need for journalists to avoid reports that will create disharmony and conflict in the polity.

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