To Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the sect whose fighters have killed about 3000 since 2009 – according to Army Chief Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika – should not give conditions for dialogue with the government.
Besides, said Pastor Oritsejafor, it has no right to invite just anybody as moderator and should not determine the pattern.
He also wondered why the choice of former Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as a moderator and the others picked by the sect.
The Chief of Army Staff, who was represented by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 2 Division, spoke in Ilorin yesterday.
Boko Haram, which detests western education, last week, offered to hold talks with the government, but gave conditions.
Rev. Oritsejafor, who spoke in Warri at the weekend, said:
“The first question we will ask is whether the people that gave the conditions are really Boko Haram members or not. I don’t know. I was saying to somebody that I want to sit back and watch. I want to look at the unfolding events because what we are seeing is quite interesting. What we are hearing is even much more interesting than what we are seeing.
“My first question is to ask if they are the real members of Boko Haram or somebody else. We will know their true identity in the next few days. We will be sure whether it is Boko Haram or not.
“The next question is whether they are sincere if it is Boko Haram or its just a blackmail? I’m very puzzled and I don’t understand how a criminal terrorist organisation will give conditions to a legitimate sitting government of a country. It’s a bit puzzling to me.
“There are many questions that demand answers. Why Saudi Arabia ? There are so many things to look at in the whole thing. Why Buhari? Why all these names? Again, I reserve my comments. I have just thrown out those questions, should I say as teasers so that you can be thinking and contemplating. These are things that are going on in my mind.
“To me, what we have heard raises more questions than any answer at all. There are much more questions now unanswered, to me, as far as I am concerned. The last teaser is that a day or two after the conditions they gave, a retired General was killed. The questions are increasing, so I am a little bit puzzled. So, I reserve my comments, for now.”
On the sincerity of the Federal Government to tackle Boko Haram, Pastor Ortisejafor said: “First of all, I am not a member of (President Goodluck) Jonathan’s cabinet and I am not in his inner circle. So, I don’t know what goes on in the government. It is hard for me to tell you how sincere he is (in tackling the Boko Haram problem). But I would be surprised, if he is not sincere because it won’t do him any good. He (Jonathan) has nothing to gain from Boko Haram destroying Nigeria. First of all it will not be good for him that it would be said that it was when he was President that an extremist group broke up the nation. So that can not be good for him.
“Secondly I believe that as a good president or somebody who ran the presidency of this nation, he would want to be able to say this is what I have done. But how will you do anything in this kind of atmosphere? So it will not make sense if he would not be sincere in wanting to tackle the problem.
“I think in my own opinion, he is sincere, but whether they are doing enough is another thing. There are many things that I think can still be done. I personally believe for example that he (Mr. President) must look again at the security agencies.
“Number one, they need to be trained and retrained. A lot of them don’t know what they are dealing with. They need to be trained and constantly retrained, especially with the things we are experiencing. If you look at the police to be more specific, they are under equipped; they are under funded. The problem with funding them again is fraud because there is no part of Nigeria now that you don’t find fraud. Everywhere you turn to, anything you turn to and everywhere you look at, there is fraud. The level of greed in Nigeria is so high. He must find a way to fund and equip the police and bring them up to date with what is happening in the world. Nigeria is not a poor country so they (the police) should be brought up to date.
“I would say that apart from equipment, they (the Police) should be paid well. Their salaries should be increased. You don’t expect a man earning some meagre amount to risk his life and to just go and die just like that. We should know that as a policeman, he has a wife and probably he has children. What is going to happen to them? How much has he been able to save? What kind of pension does he have? What kind of security have you made for his future and his family’s? These are things that must be looked at.
“I have said that among our security agents in the security agencies, there are some of them who are more loyal to their religion than to Nigeria . It is a major problem and we all pretend. We know the truth but we pretend. We don’t want to say it because if you say it, you are not nice and you are not a good Nigerian. You are not an ostrich, you go to hide your head in the sand, but I can’t do it. I was not brought up that way. I was brought up to be bold and to speak the truth at any time. A lot of them don’t believe in Nigeria as much as they believe in their religion. So, they are prepared to sell Nigeria to protect their religion. That is dangerous for a country like Nigeria . I don’t know how far we can go as a nation.
“Many times Boko Haram gets information about their movement, their plans, and their intentions before they carry them out. From the same people who are sitting and planning it. Before they finish planning, the information is given out to them. We have heard it and we have seen serving security agents who are literally part of this whole problem.”
“Some of them are in strategic positions. That is what makes it bad so that if they can know these people and quietly remove them, make them redundant, put them in places where they can not get information, where they don’t know what is going on and put the right people in the right places. It may help.
“I am using this medium to make the appeal to our Muslim leaders in the North. I have nothing against the Muslims. There are many wonderful Muslims and I would always stretch out my hands of fellowship. We own Nigeria together. There are so many of them who, I believe, are passionate about Nigeria. But I think they must not come out to condemn what is happening; we have been condemning it. Boko Haram is first of all an ideology. It is a fundamentalist ideology. That is what it is. It is what you call Islamism. They take all those ideas from the Quran not from the Bible.