The Sultan of Sokoto and leader of Muslims in Nigeria, Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar III, has urged the federal government to take advantage of the ceasefire announced by a faction of the Boko Haram sect and start dialoguing with the sect without further delay.
The Sultan made this call yesterday in Sokoto when the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, paid him a courtesy call in his palace.
He said that engaging in dialogue with the group had become even more important now than before since the faction's declaration of truce would serve as a leeway in getting across to other splinter groups within the Boko Haram sect, a move that would ensure unhindered peace in the polity.
He expressed joy at learning of the purported ceasefire offered by a faction within the Boko Haram sect few days ago, saying it provided a good opportunity for government to explore the possibility of restoring lasting peace to the country.
While noting that those clamouring for the break-up of Nigeria are simply making a noise to seek undue relevance, the Sultan said "Nigeria would not break up but remain one entity."
According to the Sultan, the political leaders know the problems of the country and its better for Nigerians to sit down together and resolve those issues instead of seeking disintegration.
"God cannot be wrong by bringing us together," he said. "He has a reason why he brought us together as Muslims and Christians. There are many issues that bind us together; there are many reasons why we should remain together as brothers and sisters in this country."
The COAS, on his part, maintained that the unity of Nigeria was unquestionable and, therefore, it could be even be subjected to debate.
"The unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable and this is what we are all trained to preserve. When some people talk about breaking up the country, I assure you that Nigeria will not break up," Ihejerika stated.
Immigration tightens border over Mali crisis
Following the increasing violence in Mali as a result of the political and religious persecution carried out by the Islamist rebels, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has promised effective border patrol to stop illegal immigrants and refugees fleeing into the country.
Addressing journalists at the end of a roundtable discussion with deputy comptrollers-general (DCGs) and comptrollers of the NIS on the way forward, the acting comptroller-general of Immigration (ACG), Mr. Rilwan Musa, noted that the country's borders were too important to be ignored, and explained that tightening security at the various Nigerian borders, especially in Yobe, Borno and other flashpoints, was a deliberate attempt to secure and protect the country from the entry of unknown elements.
He said that the service, under his administration, had taken proactive measures to forestall the security challenges the country might face in the future if the right things were not done at this critical time, especially with the current experience of the menace caused by the Boko Haram sect.
Musa disclosed that to achieve tangible result in the area of efficient border security, the service had empowered members of its enforcement team at strategic border locations, particularly those in the area councils, with motorcycles in order to strengthen their intelligence gathering mechanism.
Stressing that the NIS will focus its enforcement of strict border security and patrol on immigrants who genuinely pose a threat to Nigeria, the acting Immigration boss noted that the service had already recalled a majority of its officers from the hinterland where their services were not really needed for the time being and deployed same to border locations.
He said: "We all know what is happening in Mali today, and Nigeria being the next most vulnerable neighbour to it, their refugees will want to seek refuge here. Hence, the urgent need for us to rise up to the challenge of protecting ourselves and our country's integrity. Nigeria will be their focus and we cannot just fold our arms to watch this deadly threat unfold."
Speaking on allegations of high level of corruption at the Immigration passport offices across the country, the ACG blamed Nigerians who encourage the illegal business by trying to cut corners.
He, however, disclosed plans to limit the number of officers attached to the passport office as the only effective way of tracking down compromising officers for adequate sanction.
Musa, who further assured job seekers of strict adherence to the federal character principle during recruitment exercise, promised an improved welfare package in the area of promotions, training and re-training exercises for its officers to boost their productivity.