CHANGE IS HERE

CHANGE IS HERE

Friday, September 16, 2011

Obasanjo visits late Boko Haram’s leader’s family



By JIDE AJANI, TAYE OBATERU & NDAHI MARAMA
MAIDUGURI— TO  halt the spate of killings by ethnic rivalries and Islamic fundamentalists, especially in Jos and Maiduguri, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, visited the family house of Mohammed Yusuf, the deceased leader of the now dreaded Ahlan Sunnah Lid Da’waati wal Jihad Yaanaa (brothers), popularly known as the Boko Haram sect, Vanguard can reveal.
Obasanjo visited the late Yusuf’s family house in Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
The visit was made yesterday morning.  Obasanjo, who arrived  Maiduguri at 11:40 am, was received by the state Deputy Governor, Zanna Umar Mustapha.
The meeting with the family members lasted about 90 minutes.  Obasanjo met Yusuf’s family members at Railway Quarters, the demolished headquarters of the sect.
Obasanjo, at the meeting said: “This is a personal initiative. I urge you to forgive and forget the past. I plead with you, give me the chance to mediate between the family and government.”
In response, Yusuf’s brother-in-law, Babakura Fuggu, whose father was also executed in 2009 said: “Since 2009, this is the first time any high profile figure would be commiserating with the family. We are happy with this visit. About 30 to 40 per cent of our members are scattered in neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun.”
The former president thereafter departed for the airport.
It will be recalled that Yusuf was killed while in the custody of the Police in Maiduguri after his arrest by men of the Joint Task Force, JTF. Already, some policemen are being tried for the extra-judicial killing of Yusuf.
Earlier on Wednesday, the former president was in Jos,  Plateau State capital, which had been a theatre of ethno-religious killings lately.
Obasanjo in Jos
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo met with some religious and traditional rulers in the Plateau State capital in what was believed to be an attempt to broker peace
The former President who arrived Jos on Wednesday in a Presidential Jet was said to have met with selected representatives of various ethnic and religious persuasions considered key to the peace process in the state.
It was learnt that the invitations went out discreetly to those concerned to attend the meeting at Government Guest House, known as Green House.
None of the top government officials contacted was forthcoming on Obasanjo’s  mission but it was reliably gathered that it might be a personal initiative to intervene in seeking a solution to the unending crises in different parts of the country.
It was, however learnt that some of those invited to the meeting declined because they were contacted in their individual capacities rather than through the leadership of the bodies they represent.
His visit to Jos saw him holding talks with the leadership of Jamatu Nasir Islam, JNI, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, as well as leaders of Plateau State.
In Jos, last week, September 7, marked the 10th year when killings broke out in the once peaceful Plateau State capital. The week witnessed a killing spree which resulted in the deaths of over four dozens of people.
Nakande blames Jang
Meanwhile, former Minister of State for Information and Communication, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande, has asked Governor Jonah Jang to take full responsibility for the crisis in the state.
He told Vanguard in a telephone interview, yesterday, that rather than continue to find excuses for the nagging crisis, he should admit his mistakes.
He said: “He should stop the blame-game and accept responsibility for the way things are. The continuous injustice against our people is the cause of this agitation. Otherwise, the ordinary man or woman on the street have no problem with themselves irrespective of tribe or religion.”
3 killed, 2 injured by gunmen in Borno
In a related development, as the spate of killings on the streets of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital continued unabated, unknown gunmen Wednesday evening shot and killed three people and injured two in Bulumkutu ward of the metropolis.
The incident took place at 8: 30 p.m. when some gunmen came unannounced and walked close to where the victims were relaxing on a mat in front of their house after taking their dinner, and opened fire on them.
Those who were killed instantly were Mr. Turumda Malgwi, 56, a Director of Planning and Statistics in Borno State Civil Service Commission; Mr. Yakubu Iliya, 65, a retired staff of Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri, and a 22-year- old boy whose name could not be ascertained as at the time of going to press.
Confirming the incident, Borno State Police Commissioner, Mr. Simeon Midenda, said, about 8: 30p.m. on Wednesday, some yet-to-be identified gunmen ambushed some people who were relaxing in front of their house and killed three people, while two persons sustained injuries as a result of gun shots.
Midenda said it was unfortunate that residents of the area could not immediately alert the police on the development, and that the corpses of those killed had to remain at the scene throughout that night, adding that, “it was just this morning that we were informed of the incident, as most of the residents had to flee from the area for fear of further attacks”, he lamented.
He stressed that security of lives and property is everybody’s business, and therefore called on the general public to cooperate with other security agencies in the state, particularly in giving police information on suspected criminal activities around their domain.
Police assure on safety
Midenda, therefore stated that investigation is ongoing that would lead to the arrest of those who were behind the attack, and enjoined the public to remain calm and go about their normal activities, as police are ever ready to protect the lives of properties of the citizenry.

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