THUR, 26 NOV, 2020-theGBJournal-Borno Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, chairman of the North East Governors’ Forum, has expressed desire to obtain prosecutorial fiat from the Attorney-General to prosecute those charged with terrorism in the respective North East States, instead of referring them to Abuja.
The Governor made the call in his opening remarks during North East Governors’ Forum third meeting ongoing in Jimeta, Yola today, saying that governors in the region need to take far reaching measures to ensure incidences of house kidnapping as reported in some states, does not extend to the northeast.
‘’As we deliberate on the scourge of terrorism and terror groups within the North East, we need to fashion out ways of facilitating the prosecution of those charged with terrorism activities. At the moment, the process is a bit cumbersome as all suspects charged with terrorism and terrorist related offenses have to be transferred to Abuja for prosecution, as only the Attorney-General of the Federation has the statutory powers to prosecute terrorists; according to the provisions of anti-terrorism law.
‘’ So we need to obtain prosecutorial fiat from the Attorney-General to enable us prosecute those charged with terrorism in our respective States, instead of referring them to Abuja,’’ Prof. Zulum said.
The participants at the meeting include host governor of Adamawa, governors of Bauchi, Gombe and deputy governors of Taraba and Yobe States.
He Governor canvassed for profoundly stringent criteria for licensing religious preachers and a heavy penalty for any breach of the preaching code.
‘’In this regard, we may be able to nib in the bud, any inclination on the part of the preachers towards inciting their followers and listeners.’’
Prof Zulum noted that the most alarming and worrisome challenge confronting the region remains the daunting issue of insecurity, which has been causing excruciating loss of lives and property in the sub region. And the most devastating security challenge is the seemingly unending Boko Haram phenomenon, which has a destructive effect on the socio-economic lives of our people and which has inevitably displaced hundreds of thousands of people from across the North East, but most significantly in Borno State, which is the epicenter of the insurgency.
‘’We must however acknowledge the indefatigable efforts of our security forces in containing the insurgency. It is gratifying to note that they have undoubtedly decimated the power bloc and nerve centre of the insurgents in most of the sub-region, with the exception of a few belligerent remnants, who are confined to Sambisa forest and northern part of Borno State, especially around the Lake Chad area.’’
According to the Governor, ‘’there is however absolute need for us to seriously look into how to stimulate and renew the confidence and trust of our people in the ability of our security forces to contain the palpable threats, being posed by the continued presence of the insurgents. This is to ensure that our people are adequately protected and sufficiently guaranteed to open up and go about their normal socio-economic and business activities, without fear of being attacked or kidnapped or even forcefully being recruited by the insurgents.
The Governor also addressed the issue of rape in the region which he describes as ‘’frightfully shocking social problem.’’
‘’We must find a way of protecting our women and girls from the intolerable and aggressive demeanour of rapists.’’
The Governor brought to fore the challenges posed by the Almajiri phenomenon, which he says, are increasingly having a telling effect on the overall socio-economic development of the society.
‘’Unless the Almajiri system is completely overhauled along the lines of its original objectives, we may end up having to deal with an army of perhaps untrainable youths who inadvertently become vulnerable to the influence of social misfits like kidnappers and bandits and even terror groups like the Boko Haram insurgents,’’ he said.
He described the phenomenon as ‘’a problem common to all of us and it needs both multi-dimensional and individually selective approach, based on the general and specific peculiarities of the system in each State.’’
He said he has already set up a High Powered Committee to forensically and comprehensively look into the system, particularly its attendant issues of begging and unsavoury learning environment and determine whether or not such characteristics are integral part of the system or the result of a deliberate or inadvertent negligence on the partof the proprietors.
‘’On the short term, the Committee will advise Government on how to improve the learning environment, the academic standard as well as the status of the pupils, while as a long term measure, the Committee is to look into the possibility of integrating the Sangaya system into the overall Western education system. These are some of the measures we have taken so far on the Almajiri system.’’
The ‘’daunting phenomenon of youth unemployment’’ in the North East which is increasingly becoming a serious cause of concern not only to the sub region but the entire country as well also was mentioned as well as the economic front, which he sought a renewed commitment to collectively harness the vast and diverse resources in the region, in order to build a prosperous and economically sustainable society for both the present and future generations.
‘’ The challenges we face collectively and individually are enormous but not insurmountable, especially if we approach the challenges in a concerted manner,’’ the Governor said.