Jos — One of Nigeria's civil war heroes, General Muhammadu Shuwa, was yesterday shot dead by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect at his residence in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Also yesterday, a lawmaker representing Jos South/Jos East in the House of Representatives, Bitrus Kaze faulted the nomination of former head of state, General Mohammadu Buhari by Boko Haram as their chief negotiator, warning that Buhari "is incapable of negotiating for peace in Nigeria."
Also killed in Maiduguri yesterday with the retired general were his military security men and a yet to be identified guest.
The gunmen were said to have disguised as guests who came to pay the usual Friday homage to him at his residence located in Gwange, one of the hotbeds of the Boko Haram insurgence in Maiduguri.
Confirming the killing of the war hero in a press statement, the spokesman of the Joint Task Force, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa said: "At about 12 noon today (Friday) at General Muhammadu Shuwa (Rtd) house in Gwange 1 area of Maiduguri metropolis. While the General was seated in his house with some guests, four men initially thought to be his visitors and guests for the Juma'at prayers entered his house and opened fire on the General and his guests.
"One of the guests died on the spot while the general died on the way to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
"The JTF troops located in the area immediately cordoned off the area and a search is ongoing to apprehend the terrorists. The terrorists that carried out the killing of the late General will be brought to book."
The JTF spokesman called on the citizens to bring forward information that could assist security agencies to apprehend the terrorists.
About 24 hours earlier, the JTF had warned that the sect had concluded plans "to increase attacks on all strata of the society" even as the fundamentalist group came out just about the same time to express its willingness to dialogue with government albeit with some conditions.
Meanwhile, Honourable Kaze faulted the nomination of Buhari by the deadly Boko Haram sect as its chief negotiator claiming that Buhari "has soft spot for the sect."
In a press statement, the lawmaker said the nomination of the former head of state by the sect "can be likened to the proverbial birds of the same feathers that flocks together."
Kaze said: "Anyone who has been following the internecine violence perpetrated especially in the North of the Niger by these merchants of death should understand their choice of General Buhari. Eventually, the men behind the masks are being unveiled.
"In my view, Buhari, like Boko Haram is a religious extremist, who cannot be trusted to negotiate for sustainable peace in Nigeria. In the build up to the 2003 presidential elections, Buhari was reported to have asked Muslims across the country to vote only for the presidential candidate that would defend and uphold Islam. Even before the emergence of Boko Haram, Buhari had vowed not to stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.
In his desperation to rule Nigeria again, Buhari ordered his supporters in 2011 to 'finish' anyone who tampers with the votes, whatever that means."
Kaze said Sheik Lemu who headed the Presidential Panel on Post Elections Violence acknowledged General Buhari's "provocative utterances" which according to the panel appeared to have been "misconstrued by many voters to include recourse to violence."
He said Nigerians wouldn't forget in a hurry that after Buhari's loss to President Goodluck Jonathan, many voters resorted to violence leading to unquantifiable loss of innocent lives and properties.
"Against this backdrop therefore, it is unthinkable that anyone will expect peace from an engagement with an advocate of violence like Buhari."
Kaze said any government that considers as cardinal, the protection of lives and properties of its citizens cannot contemplate any negotiation with those demanding for "the release of captured terrorists who are in the custody of security agencies awaiting trial."
"On the verge of 100th anniversary of Nigeria's amalgamation, President Jonathan cannot afford to be deceived into mortgaging Nigeria's national sovereignty in the name of dialoguing with terrorists in Saudi Arabia or anywhere. Desperate power mongers like Buhari will more than likely misconstrue this as an opportunity to negotiate for 2015 albeit in the name of peace. There is no country in the whole wide world that has ever succeeded in checkmating terrorists by negotiating on their terms. Peace and terror like light and darkness do not and will never mix," said Kaze.