29 June 2012

Nigeria: NSA Visits Maiduguri, Damaturu

Damaturu — National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki yesterday visited Maiduguri and Damaturu where he urged for respite in the violence rocking parts of the North to allow for peaceful Muslim fasting month of Ramadan which begins in three weeks.

Retired Colonel Dasuki's visit to the hotbed of bloodshed blamed on the Boko Haram sect was the first since he assumed office after last week's sack of his predecessor General Andrew Azazi.

"President Goodluck Jonathan is committed to ensuring that peace and normalcy is restored before the onset of Ramadan fast," he said when he visited the Yobe State Government House in Damaturu.

Dasuki said he was in the state to commiserate with the government and families of victims of recent violence that led to the death of many people and destruction of property.

"Mr President has asked me to engage with all stakeholders and the government with a view to hearing from them on ways of addressing the security problems," he said.

Governor Ibrahim Gaidam urged the new NSA to step up efforts to restore peace and security in the country.

"There is a clear change of strategy in the fight against insecurity as promised by Mr President. There is an indication that our hopes, pride and dignity as citizens of this great country would be restored," Gaidam said.

"I wish to appeal to the Federal Government for the deployment of more troops to the state to complement efforts of those on the ground and particularly deployment of full Joint Task Force comprising all security agencies so as to enable them tackle the security challenges more effectively," the governor added.

Gaidam said the state government was in support of "dialogue and negotiation" with the Boko Haram insurgents but this should be pursued "to the extent that the insurgents are willing to accept to negotiate and dialogue."

"Let me share with the National Security Adviser an opinion I have expressed earlier on the current security challenges. In as much as government has the power and the sacred duty to protect the lives and property of the citizens whenever they come under threat, if one considers the colossal collateral damage these confrontations bring about due to the unconventional methods of the insurgents, the option of resolution through dialogue and negotiation should be pursued as a priority.

"We are therefore in support of any move towards negotiated settlement provided the insurgents are willing to accept the call for dialogue," Gaidam added.

The governor also denied allegations that Boko Haram violence was targeting only Christians.

"(T)he attacks cut across all religious inclinations with churches as well as public buildings like schools including Islamiyyah and government vehicles being destroyed. Furthermore, most of the innocent lives lost were from the majority Muslim population of the state," he said.

Our correspondent reports that the visit by the NSA to Yobe State was the first time such high-level Federal Government official visited to commiserate with the people in the state. During the visit, Dasuki inspected some of the properties destroyed in Potiskum and Damaturu in the recent violence.

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