In this interview with Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, he speaks on issues concerning the State of Emergency declared in the three northern states which also includes his own state Adamawa, the recent outburst of Asari Dokubo and also the taking over of the PDP in his state from the governor Murtala Nyako. Excerpt.
The President recently declared state of emergency in three States, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa State, even though some people especially from your state have asked for the removal of the State of emergency in Adamawa State. What is your take on this?
First of all I welcome this state of emergency very much because for the first time it shows that Jonathan has a spine, and is ready to bring this matter to an end. As for those who are saying Adamawa should not be included, means they do not know situations on ground. There is virtually no local government in Adamawa State that has not been affected by some violence, some are even repeatedly like Mubi, Maiha, Ganye, Numan, and several of these local governments have been affected by specific violence or the other. How can we say that Adamawa has not been affected, as you rightly noted Adamawa is sharing borders with Yobe, and Bornu and some of these dissidents are coming in through the borders in Mubi. Most of the attacks on Mubi is from neighboring states, so there is no doubt if you secluded Adamawa State, then Adamawa would have been over ran especially as we drive them out of Borno and Yobe. That is a proactive action which I commend very much. My only desire is that president Jonathan should be steadfast because people will now begin to cajole him, or even blackmail him. But he should be steadfast; he should not succumb to any blackmail from any quarter, Nigeria belongs to all of us.
Just few days after the declaring of State of Emergency, the Director of Information Defence Headquarter issued a statement that the President has ordered for the release of some women and children belonging to the Boko Haram suspects who are in detention. Some people are against while some are for. Is it too early for the release?
I don’t think it is too early, provided that those released are not terrorists and in any case the idea of arresting family members in lieu of the terrorists, I don’t think is a good a civilized way of handling situations. So I think releasing them is not bad, because in a situation like this you must use carrot and stick approach, you cannot use stick all the time. As far as that is concerned I think there is nothing wrong with it.
The Nigerian Army since the issue of insurgence and insecurity has started has been accused human right abuses, such as the one that happened in Baga in Borno State. You have been in the Military, this issue of human right abuses leveled against them, do you see it as a way of the military.
The only question I will ask is what standards are they measuring us with, is it the America Standards concerning their record in Vietnam, or their record in Iraq or that of their record in Afghanistan. So which records are they comparing us with? There is no operation in the world where military is involved, where there is no collateral damage, there is nowhere. I stand to be corrected or prove wrong. The only thing one can do is to minimize, the extent of the damage, but to eliminate it completely is impossible.
You mention America, the same America after the declaring of state of emergency and deployment of troops warned the Nigeria Army against human right abuses. They have also been condemning the Nigerian army over human right abuses.
That is why I called that double standard, what standard are they judging us, that is why I quoted their record in Vietnam, we know where they America Army wiped out villages in North Vietnam those days, where they dropped nuclear bombs on innocent children which Televisions all over the world all carried it. We saw it; it is still fresh in our minds. So it is their records in Iraq that they are using to condemn us, or is it the one in Afghanistan, nobody is supporting unnecessary violence or killings but the same thing as I said, there cannot be any military operations as serious as this one, especially when we are talking of State of emergency where there will not be collateral damage. So after all it the same America that said that Nigeria is going to be a failed state by 2015, that Nigeria is going to break. So they have this doom day scenario. Any measure that we take to avert this, they are usually not supportive, the want their prediction to come right. So is our duty as Nigerians to ensure that this prediction doesn’t come right.
Before the state of emergency, there was the Amnesty Committee set up, before the setting of this amnesty a lot of people had called for it, while some objected it. What is your view on the Amnesty?
My view is this; it will be rather controversial, because in a way I agree with what Asari Dokubo said, that this amnesty issue has become a bribery issue, that it now being used to bribe people who has committed atrocities against the nation. In the South- South the same thing, militants who are destroying our pipelines, creating havoc and so on and you pump a lot of money into their pockets making billionaires out of militants. Now Boko Haram from the North, you want to declare amnesty and you are going to spend a lot of money on them, pampering them. It is more of bribery than the desire to bring peace and harmony. The question is whom are we really giving amnesty to because most of these people we heard that they are insurgents from outside the country. Some are from Niger Republic, some from Chad, some as far as Sudan, Mali, Senegal, so are you giving amnesty now to foreigners who will now regroup after collecting money from Nigeria to go and rearm themselves and comeback even stronger. So that is the area that has to be looked on seriously, because if we don’t handle this amnesty issue properly it may rebound and cause more havoc to Nigeria, because you are putting money into the un-repented militants from outside the country who are likely going to collect this and go to regroup and cause more havoc. This is my view about this amnesty issue. I am not against peace, because our ultimate aim is for peace that is why I said I support this carrot and stick issue. There is nothing wrong with dialogue; it is a good thing and the best policy.
Recently in Nasarawa State, more than 65 police officers and 10 State Security Service were killed by a cult group known as Ombaste. What do you think would have warranted a traditional group to kill such number of security officers, do you think the State government is to blame or what.
Certainly, the State government would take the major blame because, the security of the State is in the hands of the Government of Nasarawa State, but above that what is sad about is that one hears that there is a political angle to the whole crisis. That is not all together the Ombaste, that there is a political angle to the whole issue. So my call is for the Federal Government to set up a panel of investigation to discover the true cause of that tragedy. Because it is a tragedy where policemen can be attacked by civilians, to cause so much casualties, to do that it means that those people have superior arms than the police, which is the tragedy, so that kind of situation must not be allowed to happen again. That is the irony of this amnesty thing, supposing those people claims amnesty what happens. Is unfortunate I have to quote this Dokubo, I don’t think a militant should be given such prominence.
The same Dokubo was also once a militant and he was given.
Yes he was given, he benefited out of it and he said is bribery now, so he should be taken seriously. A man who was a militant now claims that it is bribery; it shows that the policy that is not good. You see there is so insecurity in the country, in the South- East it is kidnapping and armed robbery.
What do you make of the recent statement credited to Asari Dokubo when he said that Nigeria will be history should power not return to the Jonathan by 2015.
That kind of statement is a reckless statement, he should be brought to line, infact I think the Inspector General of Police should call him to order. Look I here was arrested for voicing NADECO views in this country, I was arrested and taken to court for on the charges of treasonable felony just because I stated my views, so will my offence be more serious than what Asari said. Is it not the same country that we live in, no I don’t think people should be allowed to make such statement and get away with it and I believe even the leadership of the Ijaws should dissociates itself from such statement, because it could cause explosion in the country. It should not be allowed. Is not that I am holding brief for the Hausa/Fulani, but all the same no section of this country should hold this country to ransom because we fought civil war because of this kind of reckless statement and we should not be dragged into another civil war in this nation.
After the entire hullabaloo in your party the PDP in your home state, Adamawa it seems there is a bit of sanity being restored to the state chapter of the party. Does it mean the Governor is losing steam or grip of the party the state?
He is not losing steam, he has lost steam, if he has any iota of respect left in him, then he should just surrender. Declare total surrender.
Why do you say he should surrender?
Because he has been defeated from every front, before the last bye election was held he went into parallel primary with Joel Madaki with us and he lost that one. Then we went into proper election, instead of backing our own candidate, the PDP candidate he went and backed another candidate in another party called Kowa party. He never denied that he sponsored a candidate in Kowa party and that is why you heard that the State Chapter of the party is setting up panel of enquiry to find out those who were involved in anti-party activities, and if that is true, then the truth will come out and if it is established those who are found to be involved in anti-party would be expelled from the party.
So should the committee’s report goes ahead to find the governor culpable as one of those who were involved in anti-party, will he be expelled from the party.
If he is a member of the party, and he is found to be doing anti-part activity, yes he will be expelled. Why not, that is what the law said, nobody is above the law.
So finally what does this say about the Governor’s Political Stand in the State has it lost it finally in the state.
He has lost it that is why I said he should surrender.