by Abiodun Oluwarotimi
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom(USCIRF) has cautioned former militants of the Niger Delta, Alhaji Mujaheed Dokubo-Asari, Victor Ben Ebikabowei aka Boy Loaf, and Government Ekpemupolo, aka, Tompolo, over all the inflammatory statements that are being credited to them in the build up to the presidential election that is coming up next week Saturday.
The commission while making this warning in its latest report which its chairman, Dr. Katina Lantos Swett, made available to correspondents of the Department of State in Washington, DC during the week, added that such statements coming from the former militants who have been threatening wars if President Goodluck Jonathan loses the election, could lead to a religiously-motivated violence if proper measures are not taken by politicians and security agents in good time.
Reacting to the inflammatory statements that are being credited to the former militants, the USCRIF warned President Goodluck Jonathan and other candidates to prevent the looming electoral violence by calming their supporters as well as warning them against such statements.
USCIRF also called on all Nigeria’s political parties to hold responsible their members who are issuing statements inciting violence along religious lines. It also called on the Nigeria’s police and judiciary to impartially hold accountable all perpetrators of electoral violence.
The agency however hailed the decision of the United States to withhold visas to persons who engage in, plan, and/or perpetrate electoral violence in Nigeria, adding that such decision would send a strong message in support of peaceful elections in the country. It also maintained that every effort needed to be undertaken to ensure peaceful elections and prevent the use of religion to stir up more violence
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has condemned in the strongest terms the continued escalation of attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists, pointing to an attack on 1 February in Borno State, Nigeria and to increasing attacks in the Lake Chad Basin region, including, on 29 and 30 January, against Chadian forces deployed in Cameroon near the town of Fotokol, which killed four Chadian soldiers and injured 12 others.
In a statement issued to the press in New York, the 15 members extended their condolences and sympathies to the families of those killed and injured, and to the peoples and the Governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chad.
Recalling their Presidential Statement of 19 January this year, Council members reiterated their deep concern that the activities of Boko Haram are undermining the peace and stability of the West and Central African region.
They urged the region to enhance regional military operations and coordination to more effectively and immediately combat Boko Haram. In that regard, they commended the Chadian army’s swift assistance in Cameroon, which resulted in neutralisation of 123 Boko Haram combatants and the capture of others.
Members of the 15-State body reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including the actions of Boko Haram, constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whosoever committed.