Onaiyekan to Fed Govt: force won’t end insurgency

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Onaiyekan to Fed Govt: force won’t end insurgency

Onaiyekan to Fed Govt: force won’t end insurgency
September 28
06:43 2016

Catholic Bishop of Abuja Arch Diocese, John Onaiyekan yesterday said that the use of military force will not solve the problems posed by Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast and Niger Delta Avengers in the Southsouth.

The cleric, who noted that the application of force to solve such uprising has never worked in any part of the world, urged the Federal Government to dialogue with the groups to restore peace in the country.

Besides, he urged the government to stop seeing anyone with a link with Boko Haram members as terrorist, but rather to encourage such people to talk to members of the sect.

Onaiyekan spoke in Abuja on yesterday at the National Inter-faith Dialogue Meeting organised by IPCR and International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) in collaboration with the Interfaith Media Center (IMC).

He said: “We have been hearing about Boko Haram; we have been hearing about Niger Delta militants and others and it probably seems to be taken for granted that all we need is better arms, better trained soldiers and we shall solve the problem.

“I am afraid it has never worked that way anywhere in the world. At some point, after the soldiers have finished their job, human beings must seat around the table and talk. There is nobody that you cannot talk with because everybody is a human being – the child of a mother and maybe the sweetheart of a woman.

“Our own Boko Haram has not taken 52 years. We are only talking of three, four years. Surely, it is not too late to now move seriously in line of dialogue. That does not mean impunity. That does not mean that nobody cares about atrocities committed.

“What it does mean is that no matter the atrocities, it is always possible for human beings to see one another as brothers and sisters.”

Cardinal Onaiyekan urged the government to show more interest, put more effort, resources a bit more and a little bit of interest in getting some dialogue going.

He said: “The Federal Government should be prepared to dialogue with everybody. Very often, the military reaction or response can prepare the way for a fruitful dialogue, but you must keep dialogue constantly in mind. My fear is that we are not thinking of dialogue now. Things can go hand in hand.

“And dialogue is not something you do in front of cameras. Generally, it is a bit quiet, in the background; there is not much noise and even when the whole thing is over, people, who were involved in the dialogue, or that prepared the way would not even be seen or heard.

“People who want to work for peace are not there to score political points or to appear in public. They just want to do the right thing and I think there are many people in Nigeria who are ready to work for peace.

“If you take Boko Haram for example, I have always said that government should encourage Muslims who want to talk to them to do so instead of seeing everybody who has any link with Boko Haram as terrorist which is what seems to be what I am seeing.

“It is only people who are closed to them who can talk to them and that needs to be consciously promoted because you can never kill every Boko Haram member and even if you do, it is not in the interest of Nigeria to kill our brothers and sisters. We must find a way of getting back them as brothers and sisters that they are.”

Earlier in his remarks, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, condemned the incessant killings of innocent civilians by herdsmen.

He called on government to wake up to its responsibility and stem this tide of incessant killing of innocent people in their villages.

“The government must wake up to its responsibility and stem this tide of incessant killing of innocent people in their villages. Fulanis have been killed I know that. Reports have been made in the past couple of years but at the same time too, those who also take revenge do it disproportionately. Whether it is right or wrong, it does not matter.

“It is wrong to take any single life unjustly. For us Muslims we know that. Therefore we will never agree with the killings of innocent people. That innocent person can be anybody. It can be a Hausa man, a Fulani man, a Yoruba man, an Ibo man, whatever that person is. That is why we should all come together, identify the criminals amongst us and fish them out. That is the only way we can all have peace.

“But if you only subscribe any murder, any killing to Fulani or Islam, you are not making matters any better. You are making matters worse because we will always preach that,” he stated.

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