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Boko Haram: Sect adamant on Sharia

THE Boko Haram sect in Maiduguri, on Sunday, called for the immediate release of its members in detention as a condition for talks with the government.

Abu Qaqa, the spokesman for the sect, said, “Our position remains the establishment of sharia  law in all Muslim states in Nigeria.

“But as a temporary measure for peace, we will accept to talk with government only when all our members in captivity all over the states are released,“ Qaqa said in a statement.

He added that the sect had the records of all its members arrested either by the police, the State Security Service (SSS) or other security agencies.

Qaqa pointed out that the sect did not have any other motive than the entrenchment of Islamic law in Nigeria.

He faulted the claims by the Gaji Galtimari-led Federal Government committee on security challenges in the North-East on dialogue with the sect.

“We only heard the story in the media; nobody contacted us throughout the sitting of the committee.

“So, it is wrong for them to recommend dialogue with us, when they did not make any effort to meet with us.

“The idea of appointing the Sultan of Sokoto as a mediator between us and the government is also not acceptable to us, because the Sultan is not the authentic Muslim leader in Nigeria,” Qaqa said.

Meanwhile,  commercial activities were brought to a halt on Monday morning when gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect struck and killed three local traders at Baga International Fish Market in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Also, another international market for timber very close to the fish market has since been closed for fear of possible attack by the dreaded sect.

The killers were said to have walked into the market where Chadians, Nigeriens and Cameroonians mostly converge to buy dried fish before killing two local tea sellers, a few hours after they killed a patent medicine seller, bringing the number of the casualties to three.

Sporadic gunshots thereafter rent the air, leaving many, who were scampering for safety, injured and some residents abandoning their houses for fear of being hit by stray bullets.

The Joint Task Force (JTF) spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Hassan Mohammed, who spoke to journalists by phone, said he was not aware of the incident but acknowledged that “something happened on Baga road area this morning.”

Mohammed, in his telephone interview, said: “I have sent my men to Baga road area where we learnt that something happened. I cannot tell authoritatively whether or not there was an attack but we shall surely arrest whatever situation we find there.”

But angry traders, who spoke to journalists a few hours after the incidents, lamented their alleged ordeal at the hands of the JTF, saying that something urgent needed to be done to ensure the security of life and property rather than for the JTF to be shooting randomly in the direction of innocent civilians.

According to Mallam  Ahmed Ibrahim, a fish seller, “we are in a serious dilemma here. Some gunmen came in from outside to kill our people everyday, but instead of the JTF going after them, they are busy chasing us out of the market and forcing us to leave our shops unattended.”

As it stands, both the state government and the citizens may suffer a great deal, following the closure of the two international markets, especially if adequate security is not quickly provided on Baga road that has in recent times become a death trap.

In another development, the Federal Government has asked all agencies in the country to beef up security around public facilities and media houses.

The directive, it was gathered, stemmed from the new approach being adopted by the government to tackle security challenges facing the country.

Such public facilities to be guarded are federal and state secretariat complexes,  Government  Houses, NNPC depots, schools, airports, hospitals and others, to curb the level of insecurity in the nation.

It was reliably learnt, on Monday, that greater emphasis was asked to be put on undercover security activities in these areas for maximum result.

In Oyo State, for example, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) deployed its men in flash spots in the state, as directed by the Commandant General, Dr Ade Abolurin.

The directive was contained in a press statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the Oyo State command,  Segun Oluwole, which urged the civil defence corps “to support the security agencies in their areas by reporting any suspicious movement around the public or private infrastructure in the state to forestall the breakdown of law and order.

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