The killing spree by gunmen, believed to be members of Boko Haram continued, yesterday, after an attack in Gamboru Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State which reportedly claimed about 42 lives.
Gamboru LGA was the scene of attack, three weeks ago, which left at least 300 people, including 16 policemen, dead.
The latest attack occurred in the villages of Kanari, Wazarde and Gula along Nigeria's border with Cameroun.
It came on the heels of the ambush by gunmen, on Friday, on the convoy of some emirs in Borno State killing one and leaving two others seriously injured.
In the meantime, the Federal Government said it had not foreclosed dialogue in resolving the war with the Boko Haram Islamist group.
It also doused the controversy sparked by the statement by the Minister of Youth Development, Mr Boni Haruna, that amnesty plan for repentant Boko Haram members was in the pipeline, saying there was no such plan.
Yesterday's attack in Gamboru Ngala LGA, according to reports, occurred after gunmen arrived the three border villages at about 3a.m in trucks with assault rifles, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and petrol bombs.
The gunmen, sources said, shot sporadically at fleeing residents, killing the victims.
"The shooting went on for about seven hours. The gunmen had a field day and operated unchallenged as they did not leave until about 9.30 am on Saturday", one of the sources told Sunday Vanguard.
The villages have been reportedly deserted as survivors took refuge in Ngala town and neighbouring Cameroun villages.
Borno State Commissioner of Police, Mr Lawal Tanko, said he was not aware of the attack.
However, a top security source, who declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media, confirmed the attack.
He told Sunday Vanguard that two of the attacked villages were razed by the invaders.
The Federal Government, yesterday, declared that it had not ruled out dialogue with Boko Haram to stop its killings in the Northeast and the release of the over 200 schoolgirls it abducted in Chibok, Borno State on April 14.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, who disclosed this, said that whereas government was pursing a military campaign against the Islamist group, dialogue option remained on the table.
"The Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Conflict in the North-east is a standing one. There is also a Presidential Fact-Finding Committee both of which have been engaging stakeholders and have been offering advice. The position of government has been that the military option is there to deal specifically with impunity because no responsible government will fold its arms and allow any group supported by Al Qaeda to over run the country or threaten to divide the country", Abati told Sunday Vanguard.
"The Nigerian government has made that very clear and President Jonathan has always said that he will not allow anybody to disintegrate Nigeria under his watch. At the same time, government has a soft approach under which it offers those who are willing to renounce terrorism to lay down their arms and return to the fold as citizens. The door is open to them for dialogue. The door is open to them for repentance and rehabilitation. They are like the lost sheep and the President is saying even these lost sheep we are willing to bring them back to the fold. The door of the Nigerian state is open to anyone who has gone astray, who has been misled to think that violence is a solution to whatever problem he or she may have, to rejoin the Nigerian family and conduct themselves as true citizens".
'President never mentioned amnesty for Boko Haram'
Also, yesterday, Abati said President Goodluck Jonathan never mentioned the issue of amnesty for Boko Haram members during his Democracy Day speech.
The presidential adviser was reacting to the statement by the Minister of Youths Development, Haruna, on Thursday, during one of the events marking the Democracy Day celebrations, that government would grant amnesty to Boko Haram members who renounce violence and lay down their arms.
Abati, who spoke with State House correspondents, said the President never mentioned amnesty in his Democracy Day broadcast.
Chibok girls: Ozekhome backs negotiation
Meanwhile, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has called on the Federal Government to negotiate with Boko Haram with a view to bringing back the Chibok abducted school girls.
In a statement, yesterday, Ozekhome, who is also a delegate to the National Conference in Abuja, said that Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution mandates the Federal Government to ensure the security and welfare of the citizenry.
He said: "The controversy over whether or not the Federal Government should negotiate with Boko Haram with a view to releasing the abducted Chibok school girls is nauseating and demeaning to our humanity, to say the least. Let it be made clear that the security and welfare of Nigerians are the primary purpose of Government (Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution).
"It is unthinkable that some people would want the lives of these innocent future of Nigeria to be wasted on the altar of Government grand standing and engagement niceties. There are times when a Government stoops to conquer. The international odium, obloquy and embarrassment the abduction is causing Nigeria, whose image is being serially battered, should be halted immediately through negotiation with these insurgents."
Recalling that former US President, J.F. Kennedy once promulgated the concept of negotiation, Ozekhome said Nigeria cannot continue to experience the orgy of bloodletting which has claimed over 12 000 lives amid wanton destruction of schools, churches and mosques.
"It was J.F. Kennedy, former American President, who once declared that we should never fail to negotiate, just as we should never negotiate out of fear. Negotiating with Boko Haram will not amount to negotiating out of fear. It is simply an irritating sacrifice to be made to justify the sanctity of the lives of these young, innocent souls. I dare say that the Federal Government should negotiate even with satan, if that would bring back our girls. Even satan would be humbled and diminished by such an unprecedented strategy", Ozekhome stressed..
"Recall that part of the main brief of the Turaki Committee was to negotiate with the Boko Haram group, an offer it had imperiously rejected. Now that the same Boko Haram has thrown up the "Olive branch", for that is what it clearly is, the Federal Government should seize it, and make gains out of it.
"It affords a golden opportunity, not only to negotiate the release of the Chibok girls, but to holistically negotiate amnesty and halting of the horrific insurgency and bloodletting that have claimed over 12,000 lives and wanton destruction of houses, schools, churches, mosques, public buildings, bus stops, etc.
"The Federal Government should, for once, think of the trepidation, unease, cries, tension, suspense, psychological trauma and mental torture, that the abduction of these children is causing their parents, teachers, siblings, friends and loved ones.
"I call upon the Federal Government to immediately set up the machinery (even if discretely, clandestinely, surreptitiously), to enter into dialogue with the Boko Haram group, with a view to bringing "back our girls".