Apparently worried by the security situation in Borno State, the new governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, has restated his administration’s preparedness to dialogue with the Boko Haram sect, in spite of increased killings and attacks by its members.
But, from farway United States, President Goodluck Jonathan assured yesterday that the sect would be contained by the security agencies. “The issue of explosions has been with us even before the election and we are doing all within our powers to bring it down and we will manage and suppress it,” the president stated while speaking with journalists in New York.
Speaking with the VOA Hausa Services yesterday, the governor described the consistent bomb explosions that have rocked the state in the last few months as “politically motivated”.
According to him: “I am thinking that these attacks have political undertones, because yesterday I was at the Borno State House of Assembly and other important places, and when I returned I got the sad news that bombs had exploded and security agencies had also found posters of a opposition political party calling for the imposition of state of emergency rule in Borno State.
“They have forgotten the fact that it is God that gives and collects power at His discretion. The issue of security in Maiduguri has been my main agenda since I assumed the mantle of leadership; we will restore peace and stability throughout the whole of Borno State, and I am still standing firm in that agenda.”
The governor, who was sworn in a few days ago, said he would employ “all means and ways we can to negotiate with these our children, and Insha’Allah, we will achieve our pursuance of peace.”
He called on everybody in the state to remain calm, assuring that the government and security agencies were working round the clock to overcome what he described as a “painful, unfortunate situation”.
``We will still reach out to all those involved in the attacks on individuals in the state. Our doors are open to all those willing to lay their cards on the table”, he added. “Our stand is predicated on the premise that not all members of the group are hardliners, some of them are willing to lay down their arms and return to normal life.”
Shettima said the state government had discovered that some politicians decided to join in the killings to create a false impression about the situation in the state.
He said: “Some individuals have taken advantage of the situation by trying to create anarchy so that the federal government would declare a state of emergency in the state.
“They won’t succeed in the devilish act because we cannot be easily intimidated.”
He said that the state government had mobilised resources to ensure the restoration of peace to the state.
Shettima, however, expressed concern that the Boko Haram crisis had assumed a national dimension, following recent attacks in other parts of the country.
“Boko Haram is now a national phenomenon, it is no longer a situation restricted to Borno,” he said.
The state has, since March last year, come under consistent attacks by members of the Jama’atu Ahl- Sunnati Lil da’awati wal Jihad sect, popularly known as Boko Haram. Thousands of people have been killed and many others critically injured in the process.
In what some security operatives described as the “heaviest attack”, the Islamic fundamentalist group on Tuesday exploded multiple bomb blasts in Maiduguri, killing over 11 innocent souls.
Meanwhile, the governor yesterday visited the three bomb blast scenes in the state capital and promised the victims that the state government would pay compensation to all those affected.
He visited the Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church and sympathised with the cathedral administrator of the church Rev. Father David Bredling, on the destruction of a part of the church.
He said that the Borno State government was ready to pay for the reconstruction of the church, police stations and other business premises damaged by the blasts, and assured the people that their lives and properties would be protected at all cost.
Responding, the cathedral administrator thanked the governor for his concern and assured him that the Catholic Church would work with the government in order to restore the much-needed peace.
Rev. Father Bredling said he was highly disturbed by the destruction caused by the blast, but thanked God that no member of his church lost his/her life in the blast.
The Operation Flush commander, Col. Victor Obhalem, also assured the governor that he would deploy more security to the church.