The Boko Haram sect yesterday denied involvement in the killing of a retired army general, Muhammadu Shuwa, last Friday.
Unknown gunmen earlier suspected to be members of Boko Haram had shot Gen. Shuwa at his home in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, killing him and one of his guests.
According to Sagir Musa, spokesman for the Joint Military Task Force in the state, the attackers entered the house of the late general as he was hosting guests before the Friday prayers and opened fire on him and his guests.
Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz, a spokesman for the terrorist group, said by phone yesterday from Maiduguri: "We have no hands in the killing of Gen. Shuwa. We didn't have problem with the man; we could not have killed the late general for no reason."
The killing of Gen. Shuwa came a day after Abdulaziz had said the group was ready to start talks with the federal government, where it named General Muhammadu Buhari to head its negotiation team.
CAN calls for drastic measures against insurgents
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in a joint meeting of its northern and southern chapters, has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to adopt drastic and proactive measures to match the new tactics of insurgents.
This, the religious body said, was in order to halt the senseless killing of innocent Nigerians, especially Christians, as well as the destruction of churches in the northern part of the country.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting in Abuja last Wednesday.
The meeting was co-chaired by the primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and chairman, 17 Southern States CAN, His Grace Primate Nicholas Okoh, and the Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna Archdiocese and chairman of the 19 Northern States and Abuja CAN, His Grace Peter Y. Jatau. Present at the meeting were executive committee members of both chapters of CAN.
The meeting noted, with pleasure, the President's undertaking to deal decisively with the security challenges facing the nation and commended the federal government under his leadership for its management of the crisis so far.
It also noted with satisfaction President Jonathan's humane and prompt management of the flood that ravaged most parts of Nigeria even as it called on the federal government to ensure that the victims were assisted to regain their lives to enable them settle down to their various vocations.
CAN expressed the fear that if the funds were not disbursed directly to the victims, they might be wasted on items they did not require and insisted that the federal government must monitor the distribution of its financial assistance to avoid a hijack that might end up reducing what should accrue to the victims.
On the relationship between the two chapters, the meeting noted the advantages derivable from regular comparison of notes and resolved that a wider forum, comprising a cross-section of members of the two chapters, would meet to discuss specific issues that concern the future of the church in Nigeria.
It called on all Christians, irrespective of their denominational persuasions, to unite. He stressed that the unity of Christians was most crucial at this time when the church was undergoing major challenges that border on persecution.
CAN used the opportunity to re-affirm its confidence and support for the leadership under Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. It commended him for the excellent job he was doing on behalf of Christians, given the current challenges, just as it also applauded his efforts at uniting all Christians in Nigeria through the five blocs.
Dialogue with sect uncalled for - Lar
Former national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Solomon Lar has said that the call for dialogue between the Boko Haram sect and the federal government was uncalled for. Except the sect revealed its identity, dialogue with a faceless group would be meaningless, he added.
This is just as the elder statesman condemned the killing of Major General Mohammed Shuwa, urging concerned authorities to do everything possible to unveil the perpetrators of such dastardly act and bring them to book.
Chief Lar argued, "I disagree completely that there should be dialogue with Boko Haram, unless they show their identity that Mr, X, Y and Z is the Boko Haram. For them to name some people that they want them to be their representatives, who are these people? They are faceless people;let them come out and say we are the Boko Haram, then, we can do the dialogue with them.
"Even General Muhammadu Buhari, Ali Moguno they mentioned as their representatives have not agreed with them. If their representatives have agreed with them, let them come out for dialogue.
"In the Niger Delta, when we had militancy crisis, some people came out and said they were the leaders of the militants. That was very reasonable, and the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua dealt with the leaders. Why wouldn't Boko Haram follow the same example?"
Reacting to insinuations that the government has lost control of the nation's security, the governor of the old Plateau State maintained that the government of President Jonathan was doing its best to secure Nigeria.
According to him, "President Goodluck Jonathan and the security chiefs under him are doing their very best to ensure that the question of Boko Haram becomes a history.
"I don't agree that the federal government has lost control of the situation; the government is in absolute control of the situation, and that is why you are meeting with me here in Kaduna. If the federal government had lost control, it means Nigeria is a failed state; and Nigeria will never be a failing state. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is doing well, but we should do more and see that we live in peace."
He, however, called on all Nigerians to be more patriotic, saying that once every Nigerian was patriotic, most challenges currently facing the country would be overcome.
The elder statesman, who spoke to newsmen in Kaduna at the weekend, said: "The killing of retired Major General Mohammed Shuwa was unfortunate. I read in the newspapers how one of the Nigerians who fought very seriously to keep the country one during the civil war was shot by gunmen. I am really disturbed. He is one of Nigeria's unsung heroes. He was a hero, but nobody talked about him. Government after government never did anything to bring him up and recognize his past performance."
On the 2015 general elections, Chief Lar expressed hope for the PDP, although he admitted that 2015 was still far away.
He, however, cautioned his party (PDP) not to take Nigerians for granted: "Don't take Nigerians for granted. This is what I always tell people: that we are together in democracy. I, Solomon Lar, strongly believe in democracy.
"People will decide, Nigerians will decide. But PDP is doing everything wonderfully well, and the national chairman of the party, Dr Bamanga Tukur, is doing extremely well, and I think Nigerians are reasonable people, and they will appreciate him."