Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, the SCS deputy Secretary General, said his group has suggested to President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration several ways to resolve the country’s security crisis.
He says the government, itself, is to blame for the country’s worsening security challenges. “It’s because of injustice by the federal government — including some state governments perpetrated — it is as a result of that [that] we are witnessing what is happening today,” said Pantami.
“Wherever you do injustice, that injustice could definitely invite atrocity to your community. So if we want to tackle that problem, let us not just criticize northern Muslims or northern elders. Let us look critically, [at] what the federal government has done and at the same time what some state governments have done.”
Over the weekend, the Northern States Christians Elders’ Forum, NOSCEF, accused some northern Muslim elders of shielding Boko Haram members and those who sponsor them. The group also called for the country to be restructured into six regions as a way of maintaining Nigeria’s unity.
Sheikh Pantami said the accusations are without merit.
“Most of our state governments including the federal government are not sincere… They will always tell you they are ready to solve this problem, but if you look at their actions critically, you will see it’s different from what they say.”
Some Muslim youths reacted angrily to the accusations leveled against their elders. They said many Muslims have died as a result of the ongoing violence perpetrated by the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
Pantami said it is erroneous for northern Muslim elders to be singled out for criticism.
“Most of [their members] are faceless people. In some situations, some people that are being arrested today committing atrocities in the northern part of Nigeria, some of them are not even Muslims,” said Pantami.
He said the Supreme Council for Sharia was the first group to initiate dialogue between the government and Boko Haram to find ways of ending the security crisis.
“Throughout the situation, it was the only genuine dialogue when we started intervening through our [leadership]…in fact we instantly witnessed [the] lack of sincerity from the federal government,” said Pantami.
Pantami outlined what he described as steps to resolving the security challenges.
“Try to get some sincere and some respectable elders in the north…try to understand the injustice you committed as a government. Try to understand the people you oppressed as a government, identify all their grievances. Those that are genuine, try to see that you pay them back. Those that are not genuine try to tell them that you cannot do that.”