Former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sheriff, former Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and others should face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) – if the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has its way.
APC advised President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday to hand over the duo and others for alleged sponsorship of Boko Haram, the fiendish sect that is waging a war to establish an Islamic Caliphate in some parts of the North.
Sheriff and Gen. Ihejirika have denied the charge, which was pronounced by an Australian negotiator, Dr. Steven Davis.
The party said Davis’ confessions showed that the sponsors of Boko Haram are not only within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), they are closer to the Presidency.
It said the PDP is behind Boko Haram for the sole purpose of winning next year’s presidential election.
The party also said Boko Haram had been politicised and used as a trump card for President Jonathan to win another term.
The APC, which made the claims at a briefing in Abuja by its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said the Department of State Security Service (DSS) and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) could not pretend that they do not have any information on these men.
At the crowded briefing were members of the APC Executive.
Odigie-Oyegun, who preceded his briefing with Arise Television’s Davis’ interview on a big slide, asked Jonathan to be courageous to bring those behind Boko Haram to book.
He said: “The truth is finally out. We have been vindicated. We have no hand in the Boko Haram insurgency. The raison d’etre of our party is the well-being and security of Nigerians.
“The sponsors of Boko Haram are within the PDP and the Presidency. They are known friends of President Jonathan. He knows them and they know him.
“The man who exposed these Boko Haram sponsors is a Jonathan-appointed negotiator. He has no axe to grind, neither does he have any motive to shield the APC or portray the PDP/Presidency in bad light. In fact, if he had any sympathy at all, it is for the man who hired him, President Jonathan.
“Then their drum exploded! Dr. Stephen Davis, a man hired by the President Jonathan-led Federal Government to negotiate with Boko Haram for the release of the Chibok girls decided to speak out, believing the best way to tackle the insurgency is to expose the sponsors.
“And who are they? On international television last Thursday, and as you have just seen and heard, he named former Borno Governor Ali Modu Sheriff and a former Army Chief, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, as the sponsors of Boko Haram.
“Prodded by Sahara Reporters in a subsequent interview on whether Gen. Buhari and Malam Nasir el-Rufai were sponsors, he said the Boko Haram commanders who gave him the names of their sponsors did not mention their names.
“The die is cast. The truth is finally out! Boko Haram sponsors have been exposed. They are within the ruling PDP. They are friends of President Jonathan. He cannot pretend not to know who they are and what they have done and are still doing. His myriad of intelligence agencies, including the DSS and the DMI, cannot pretend they do not have any information on these men.”
Odigie-Oyegun insisted that the suspected sponsors must be handed over to ICC for investigation and prosecution.
He said: “Now that the cat has been let out of the bag and the real sponsors of Boko Haram have been exposed, we hope President Jonathan will summon the courage to do the right thing: hand over the identified Boko Haram sponsors to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation and prosecution.
“ There is no doubt that Boko Haram has committed crimes against humanity in its scorched-earth campaign against unharmed citizens, and the most appropriate body to investigate and try the sect’s sponsors is the ICC.
“According to Article 17 of the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, and to which Nigeria is signatory, the ICC is a court of last resort, expected to exercise its jurisdiction only if states themselves are unwilling or unable genuinely to investigate and prosecute international crimes.
“In view of the fact that the alleged Boko Haram sponsors are either members of the ruling party or friends of the President, it is clear that the PDP-led Federal Government is unwilling and unable to try them, hence our call.
“Nigerians can be rest assured that the APC will not allow this issue to be swept under the carpet.
“Now that it is clear that the PDP is behind Boko Haram for the sole purpose of winning next year’s presidential election, Nigerians must prevail on the PDP and the Presidency to urgently end this insurgency and the daily killing and maiming of innocent Nigerians!
“The President must remember that he is the Commander-in-Chief! The buck stops on his desk. He must now do all it takes to stop the growing mess in our nation’s Northeast. Nigerians expect no less.”
The APC chairman said the party had always suspected Sheriff as a mole in its midst to hijack its structure.
He said: “It is true that Ali Modu Sheriff was, until recently, a member of our Party. But the Party always suspected that he was a mole, planted to hijack or at best weaken the new Party for the PDP. He is not new to that role. He helped to decimate his former party, the ANPP, to an extent that the number of states under its control fell from seven in 2003 to three by the time he left as governor.
“We know for sure that Ali Modu Sheriff was planted in the APC to help decimate our party. We confronted him openly during the merger negotiation but he denied vigorously. His surrogate for the post of the Chairman of the APC, Chief Tom Ikimi, together with whom they planned to hijack the party for the Presidency was firmly rejected. Realising they have failed, they fled our party and returned to where they came from, and were duly embraced by their controllers.”
The APC queried why Sheriff was being given preferential treatment by the government and security agencies, including the reopening of the shut Maiduguri International Airport for the former governor because he joined the PDP.
Odigie-Oyegun added: “President Jonathan cannot pretend not to know the alleged role that Ali Modu Sheriff has played in the establishment and growth of Boko Haram, yet he never allowed the man to even be questioned by any of the security agencies under his control.
“All through his time with our party, every time they accused us of sponsoring Boko Haram, on the basis of his presence, we challenged them if they had evidence to arrest any of our members who is suspected to be a sponsor, they never did. They dared not, because Sheriff was their agent. Even if he had remained in the APC after we democratically encouraged him to go, they would still not have arrested him.
“Recall, gentlemen, that immediately Sheriff went back to the PDP, the Maiduguri Airport that had been closed to even the pilgrims from the state on grounds of security, was re-opened specially for him. What more evidence does anyone need that Sheriff was and remains President Jonathan’s Man Friday?”
He expressed regrets that Boko Haram had been politicised as part of a plot to secure second term ticket for President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said: “We have said it all along. Boko Haram was politicised purely for one reason, and one reason only: To be used as a trump card for President Jonathan to win another term. For that strategy to work, the APC, which they see as the only stumbling block to the PDP’s victory in 2015, must be maligned and labelled. Gullible, duplicitous and self-serving politicians like Femi Fani-Kayode swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker, and started parroting the glaring lies. PDP spokesman Olisa Metuh, an obvious pawn on the chess board, followed suit, labelling a party that comprises Nigerians of all ethnic and religious hue a Janjaweed and Islamic party. Now he is stewing in his own juice.
“In the process of this dangerous politics, the Nigerian military which was globally acclaimed for its impressive showings at various peacekeeping missions around the world, simply suffered collateral damage.
“Apparently, fifth columnists in the military have sold the force out, first by denying it of the necessary fighting tools and then weakening it to such an extent that even the little it had was being taken away daily by insurgents. When the patriotic Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno tried to raise the issue of the poorly-equipped troops and their low morale, he was roundly pilloried. Now the world knows why.”