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Onaiyekan, Pam decry new wave of killings by Boko Haram


Urge Buhari To Rejig Security Architecture 

The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has decried the new wave of killings by Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast of the country and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to overhaul the national security architecture and bring on board, new people that can do the job better. 

He lamented that life has become precarious, people cannot move around freely and businesses are being crippled in the region due to the activities of the sect and called on the President to rise up to the occasion and provide security for Nigerians.

Similarly, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Northern chapter, Rev. Yakubu Pam, described the increasing rate of killing of innocent Nigerians by the insurgents as a very sad development. 

He observed that Boko Haram’s aim is to bring division, suspicion, war, and hatred among Christians and Muslims in the country. 

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday in Abuja, Onaiyekan noted that Boko Haram would continue to thrive and jump around as long as they are not properly tackled, insisting that the federal government has a duty to ensure Nigeria is safe, and there is no excuse for failure. 

He stated: “Let nobody tell us that the Boko Haram have better weapons than our military or that the terrorists are better trained than the Army to which we are devoting billions and trillions of naira every year in the budget. There is no way the government can claim to have done all that needs to be done. If this is the best that they can do, then their best is not enough. 

“In everything we do, there must be a strategy and the strategy must have an outcome. The strategy for our defence and for our national security must be to secure our nation. Instead of securing our nation, our people, including our soldiers, are being killed. It means that you have to change your strategy and the first thing to change in your strategy is to change the people.

“The security chiefs should be changed, so that other people can do it better, irrespective of whether they are Christians or Muslims. But when you find out that they are all Muslims, you will be thinking that there is something sinister going on.” 

According the cleric: “Boko Haram has never really stopped; they have been active, committing atrocities in the Northeast, but because people involved are not well known, we don’t read such things. The fact is that it isn’t as if we have succeeded in taming with the Boko Haram and suddenly they are getting up; there is obviously the feeling that the Boko Haram wants to make it clear that they are very much around, because they not only waste people’s lives, they also do it in such a way that it will make maximum publicity.

“For instance, they kill an important Christian leader, they want the whole world to hear that they have killed a CAN chairman. They take delight in causing atrocities to gain publicity.”

On claims that Christians were being targeted, Onaiyekan said: “Whoever that is killed must feel targeted, because they have never stopped insisting that they are Muslims and are doing whatever they are doing for the sake of their religion. It is very easy, therefore, for us as Christians to consider whatever they do to us as targeting us because we are Christians. But we should not forget that they are also killing people who are not Christians. They kill anybody who stands in their own way. We are also aware they have targeted some Muslim preachers whose sermons they don’t like.

“I don’t think it is right turning the whole tragedy into Christians versus Muslims, because by so doing, we are only harming ourselves. They are hurting Christians and Muslims and we can only solve the problem if we find a way of restoring mutual trust among ourselves, so that we can together, fight a common danger that is hovering over all of us.” 

Onaiyekan observed that Christians have complained that the body language of the President has repeatedly given impressions that he has a strong bias for Islam against Christianity, especially in terms of appointments into the sensitive positions in the area of state security.

“In other countries, if this kind of thing happens, the security chiefs would have been sacked and held responsible for not being able to deal with the terrorists.

“We are not satisfied with what they are doing. Life has become precarious, people cannot move around freely and businesses cannot go on. We are not happy that lives are being wasted, as every human life is sacred. We have to put our house in order if we want investors to come.” 

On what should be done with the repentant Boko Haram members, Onaiyekan noted: “Whatever government is doing with the Boko Haram members who had laid down their arms is being done in secrecy and this has given room for all kinds of speculations, conspiracy theories and allegations that Boko Haram members are being recruited into the Nigerian Army. Whether this is true or not, we don’t know, because everything is shrouded in secrecy.

“The question is: Who is doing the deradicalisation? Are they trained psychiatrics, psychologists or Imams? How many people are involved? The Boko Haram is killing in the open and anything that the government is doing with them should be made open because this thing concerns all of us. And one thing is that some people are smiling to the bank every month because of these operations.” 

On his part, Pam advocated a total reform and overhaul of the security system and appealed to some of the retired Generals and well-respected leaders in northern Nigeria to rise up to the occasion, saying: “We should not just sit down and see the country and our region going down.

“Poverty is destroying us. No employment and the youth are having a field day kidnapping for ransom, which is not a good thing. We must rise up to the occasion.

“The security agencies are not doing enough. In some quarters, we see them quarrelling with each other and competing in the field. I think there is no synergy among the security agencies and these are disturbing. ..”

“I think whatever it is, the bulk still goes back to the President and the Commander in Chief to stand up to the challenge in the security system. They should avoid the aspect of competing in the field and fighting over merriments or who take the credit or not. It is better they stand up to challenge confronting the nation.” 

He said: “Christians are not actually happy with this barbaric action aimed at killing innocent Nigerians, not only Christians alone. However, we know there are pockets of persecution here and there, apart from the Boko Haram against those of the Christian faith in northern Nigeria.

“In some states, they are not too free and in some states, they do not have equal privileges with others. So, these are issues that are fundamental and so disturbing here in northern Nigeria concerning Christians.

“However, we understand that the Boko Haram’s aim is to bring division, war, and hatred among Christians and Muslims, and of course, only government can stand up and have a strong will to overcome and conquer them, because their intention is to see that we fight and kill each other, so they will have a field day to execute what they have in mind. 

“There must be a means with which government should handle this issue. Nigerians must rise up to see that we begin to think in terms of helping and ensuring that this menace is overcome.” 

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