President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday assured Nigerians and members of the international community of the commitment of his administration to take appropriate action against any member of the security agencies found culpable in the death of 185 people in Baga town, Borno State.
The Baga massacre which happened over the weekend when men of the Joint Task Force clashed with Boko Haram insurgents in the town which is at the border between Nigeria and Cameroon have provoked outrage and attracted condemnation locally and internationally.
Opposition political parties, civil right groups, the United Nations and the United States have condemned the killings, describing it as unnecessary show of heavy handendness by the security forces.
But the military have disputed the number of casualties, claiming that lesser people died during the confrontation than the figure reported in the media.
Speaking before he inaugurated the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North and another Committee on Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Council Chambers of Aso Rock Presidential Villa today, President Jonathan charged security agents to always take the citizens into consideration in the course of carrying out the task of bringing peace to any part of the country.
According to him, the job of ensuring peace should not be accompanied by destruction.
While making specific reference to the Baga incident, President Jonathan noted that “the issue in some parts of Borno today is being investigated and I assure Nigerians and the international community that if errors are made, such people are cautioned and are treated in line with our rules and regulations.”
The President had earlier described the job of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North as an onerous one, adding that “all Nigerians expect you to perform magic. We pray that God will give you the wisdom to do so.”
The President added that his administration was determined to bring peace to all parts of the country and appealed to Nigerians to support the Committee by providing it with information to aid its work.
He also said the Committee can include any individual it feels can facilitate its assignment.
The Chairman of the committee who is also the Minister of Special Duty, Alhaji Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, said at the occasion that though the task is not an easy one, but members feel challenged by the onerous responsibility placed on them.
He appealed to Nigerians for patience, adding that the Committee will come up with solutions that will help in tackling the security challenges posed to the country by the Boko Haram insurgents.
President Jonathan announced the setting up of the Committee last Wednesday based on the report of National Security Council Technical Committee it had earlier set up to review fresh modalities for addressing security challenges in the North.
The Presidential Committee is to constructively engage key members of Boko Haram and define a comprehensive and workable framework for resolving the crisis of insecurity in the country.
Its terms of reference include “developing a framework for the granting of amnesty; setting up of a framework through which disarmament could take place within a 60-day time frame; the development of a comprehensive victims’ support programme, and the development of mechanisms to address the underlying causes of insurgencies that will help to prevent future occurrences.”
Other members of the committee are: Sheik Ahmed Lemu, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Col. Musa Shehu, (rtd.), Sheik Abubakar Tureta, Senator Sodangi Abubakar, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Hon. Mohammed Bello Matawalle, Amb. Zakari Ibrahim, Hajiya Naja’atu Mohammed, Malam Adamu S. Ladan, and Dr. Joseph Golwa.
Also in the committee as members are AVM A. I. Shehu, Mr. R. I. Nkemdirim, DIG P. I. Leha, Prof. Nur Alkali, Malam Salihu Abubakar, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Lugga, Barrister Ibrahim Tahir, Brig-Gen. Ibrahim Sabo, Amb. Baba Ahmed Jidda, Group Capt. Bilal Bulama, Rtd, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, and a Representative of Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF) is to act as Secretary.
Comrade Shehu Sanni and Dr. Datti Ahmed earlier announced as members of the Committee however declined participation.
The President approved the inclusion of Barrister Aisha Wakil as member of the Committee yesterday.
Also inaugurated by the President this morning is the committee on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
The President said the setting up of the committee was in keeping with his pledge that Nigeria would work with the United Nations and other countries to stem the worrisome proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and their use in creating insecurity and instability in Nigeria and other developing nations.
The Committee, according to the President is to come up with suggestions on how to stop the smuggling of small arms and light weapons to the country.
While decrying the negative effects of small arms and light weapons in the West African sub-region, President Jonathan asked the UN to come up with ways of controlling the production of the deadly weapons.
The committee is chaired by Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe.
Other members include Amb. Martin I. Uhomoibhi, Amb. T. D. Hart, Amb.Ghali Umar, Amb. B.G. Wakil, Mr. Opelusi Olureti, representative of the Ministry of Interior, representative of NSA, representative of DG (SSS), representative of NIA, and a representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Others are representatives of Ministry of Defence, Police, Nigerian Customs Service, OSGF, and the Director, International Organisations Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) will act as Secretary.