Ex-president Jonathan urges implementation of 2014 report to resolve sectarian killing
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said that implementation of the resolutions contained in 2014 National Conference report could prevent ethnic and religious tensions in the country such as the recent Southern Kaduna ethno-religious crisis that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of persons in the area.
Jonathan made the remark during a presentation to the House Sub-Committee on Africa of the U.S. Congress, when he met with the committee on the challenges faced by Christians in Nigeria and the Niger Delta Issue.
This is just as the Nigeria Police Force stated yesterday that it has arrested 17 suspects involved in the recent killings in Kafanchan in Kaduna State.
The former president, who was invited by the congressional sub-committee and spoke in his capacity as Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, said implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference was the panacea for ethnic and religious tensions that have led to crises such as the recent Southern Kaduna killings.
He also identified impunity as a factor that contributes to the recurrence of such violence, noting that if those behind previous crises are not prosecuted then like-minded individuals and groups would be emboldened to repeat the same acts.
Jonathan talked about his efforts to end impunity, specifically citing the case of Kabiru Sokoto, the mastermind of the Christmas Day bombing of Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State, who was arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned by his administration and was the first successful prosecution of a terrorist attack on a place of worship in Nigeria’s history.
He said: “That promise was fulfilled on the 20th of December 2013 when
Kabiru Umar, aka Kabiru Sokoto, was sentenced to life imprisonment after my administration investigated that crime, identified him as the mastermind, arrested him, and diligently prosecuted him and some of his associates.”
The former president also noted that his administration’s prosecution of the perpetrators of the deadly bombing of an office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also in Madalla on April 8, 2011 was the first successful prosecution of terrorists in Nigeria.
While supporting the National Conference’s recommendation for an independent Religious Equity Commission to be set up to apprehend and arrest perpetrators of ethnic and religious violence, Jonathan maintained that ending impunity would also ease tensions.
On the Niger Delta, the former president said he fully aligned with the views of the 2014 National Conference, which called for true and fiscal federalism as the way out of agitations in the region and in other parts of Nigeria.
He also said that interventionist agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) tend not to be effective due to over-politicisation.
Jonathan was of the view that the rapid development of a state like Akwa Ibom has shown that what the region needs is resource control not interventionist agencies.
The meeting was attended by Chairman of the U.S. House Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations, Congressman Christopher H Smith and other influential staff of the committee.