A former Head of Counter Terrorism Bureau of the United States of America State Department, Mr. Daniel Benjamin, has said the Boko Haram sect has overtaken the Taliban in Afghanistan as the deadliest terrorist group in the world.
Benjamin made the assertion yesterday in Port Harcourt while delivering a lecture titled: 'The Nigeria Security Challenge and its Implication for Internal, Africa and Trans-Atlantic Relations' at the second International Conference on Democracy and Good Governance organised by the Rivers State Government. The conference had the theme: 'Nigeria's Democracy: Issues and Challenges'. According to Benjamin, Boko Haram attained the status overtaking the Taliban in Afghanistan when it was observed that it killed at least seven persons in each of its attack in the North-eastern Nigeria. "By 2012, Boko Haram was the second most deadly terrorist group in the world after Afghanistan's Taliban as the Taliban then killed more people than Boko Haram. Presently, Boko Haram is the deadliest terrorist group, killing at least seven persons per attack. Boko Haram has already become a major menace to countries like Cameroun, Niger, as well as Chad. They are well funded and well armed," he said.
He, however, said despite the activities of Boko Haram, Nigeria could not be ranked among war-torn countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. On the state of democracy in Nigeria, Benjamin said he believed that Nigeria was moving in the right direction given the openness and vibrancy in discussions at the conference. Also, a former Foreign Minister of France and founder of Doctors Without Borders, Mr. Bernard Kouchner, in his lecture titled: 'Africa, Nigeria and Issues for the Future,' also noted that security was a great challenge in most African countries.
He said although the some African countries were experiencing rising economic indices of growth, insecurity and poverty were still prevalent in the continent.
Kouchner said the incident of the abduction of more than 200 students of the Government Secondary School, with Chibok, Borno State, was a dent on the impressive economic indices of the country. He, however, said: "Despite the Chibok girls saga, Nigeria is making tremendous progress in democracy. There are very few places in Africa where you can have this kind of robust and free discussions."
In his presentation titled: 'Nigeria's Democracy: Issues and Challenges,' Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Value and Leadership, Prof. Pat Utomi, noted that the feelings of Nigerians on democracy was currently low and emphasised the importance of rebuilding legitimacy in the nation's democracy.
He said the best way to achieve this was to make the nation's democracy more inclusive and owned by the people as that would make it easier for the people to confer legitimacy on the government; Utomi said: "No regime can succeed without legitimacy and it is the people who confer legitimacy to a government and not democracy." He lamented that democracy in the country at this stage was not government of the people, by the people and for the people but "an elite arrangement for the exchange of privileges."
Also, Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, challenged participants at the conference to rise up and take actions that would bring about change in the country.
Addressing the participants, Amaechi urged them to prepare to vote out bad government in 2015 as Nigeria needed change. "Do you like Nigeria as it is today? Do you like the way Nigeria is governed," Amaechi asked the audience. When the audience responded in the negative, he said, "vote them out: whether they are from the Niger Delta, Southern Delta or whatever Delta. We need to vote them out now so that we can change Nigeria. We need to change Nigeria now."
Speaking on the theme of the conference: 'Nigeria's Democracy: Issues and Challenges', the governor said democracy is the right of the people to choose who their leaders should be and not the one they are compelled to vote or the ones voted for by others on behalf of the people.
Meanwhile, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja and led by Justice Ahmed Yahaya yesterday struck out an appeal filed by sacked former chairman of Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Godspower Ake, challenging the decision of an Abuja High Court which removed him from office.
Ake, a staunch ally of Governor Amaechi, was dissatisfied with the judgment and filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
The judgment which removed Ake from office declared Chief Felix Obuah and Walter Ibibia Opuene as the chairman and secretary respectively of the Rivers State PDP.
In the appeal, Ake said he filed it on behalf of himself and other members of the state exco of the party. Because the appeal was filed out of time, Ake filed an application for an extension of time within which to appeal the decision of the Abuja court delivered in April, 2013 which brought Obuah and Opuene as chairman and secretary respectively.
While the application was pending, three members of the sacked exco approached the court asking that both the application for extension of time to appeal the decision of the Abuja court as well as the notice of appeal filled by Ake on their behalf be struck out.
They said their consent was not sought and obtained by Ake before instituting the action on their behalf.
One of the executive members, Mr. Emmanuel Utchay, specifically urged the court to strike out Ake's appeal for being incompetent as it was filed without his consent.
In a unanimous ruling, the appellate court held that the applications of the executive members whose consent were not obtained by Ake before filing the appeal in a representative capacity, succeeded. The court consequently struck out the appeal and awarded a cost of N35,000 in favour of the respondents.