Story from Emmanuel SAMUEL, Yola
The North-East governors have urged the Federal Government to release the executive powers of prosecuting Terrorism into their hands since they are front line states.
The Governor of Borno State and chairman of North East Governors forum, Professor Babagana Umaru Zulum dropped the hint during the 3rd Session of the North East Governor’s Forum in Yola the Adamawa State Capital, Thursday.
The Chairman lamented that the northeast governor’s forum needs to obtain prosecutorial fiat from the Attorney General of the federation to enable them to prosecute those charged with terrorism in their respective states, instead of referring them to Abuja.
Zulum disclosed this on Thursday in his open remarks at the North East governors forum held at the Government House in Yola., Adamawa state.
The governors of the six states of the northeast of Taraba, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Yobe and Gombe state have embarked on two days meeting to fashion ways in addressing the insecurity bedevilling the zone.
However Zulum in his words “As we deliberate on the scourge of terrorism and terror groups within the northeast, 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 offences have to be transferred to Abuja for prosecution, as only the Attorney General of the federation has statutory powers to prosecute terrorists., according to the provisions of the anti-terrorism law.
“So we need to obtain prosecutorial fiat from the Attorney General of the federation to enable us to prosecute those charged with terrorism in our respective states instead of referring them to Abuja.”
He also described the unending Boko Haram as a phenomenon that has a destructive effect on the socio-economic lives of the people across the North East.
He said it is gratifying to acknowledge the indefatigable efforts of our security forces in containing the insurgency of the sub-region with the exception of a few belligerent remnants who confined to Sambisa forest and Northern part of Borno State around the Lake Chad area.
“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,” he said
Another frightfully shocking social problem which is, unfortunately, is becoming widespread in our region is rape which he opined, “We must find a way of protecting our women and girls from the intolerable and aggressive demeanour of rapists”.
On the issue of emergent criminal activities like banditry and kidnapping, Professor Zulum said the twin scourge is assuming a worrisome dimension in the North East as it is becoming rampant and widespread while inter-State road travel is becoming virtually impossible for the people.
Zulum also lamented the daunting phenomenon of youth unemployment in the North East which he said is increasingly becoming a serious cause of concern not only to the sub-region but the entire country as well.
He said, “we have discovered recently ENDSARS protest was one of the direct consequences of youth unemployment which unfortunately degenerated into youth restiveness with its concomitant effects, particularly on governance”.
According to him, “We must therefore find ways and means of creating opportunities for our youths to be gainfully employed or actively engaged in useful activities in order to ensure that they do not constitute a menace or pose danger to society”.
He maintained that education is the key to achieving these objectives and therefore every State in the North-East must work towards ensuring that our education system is resuscitated and reinvigorated to meet up the socio-economic needs and developmental requirements of our society.
On the economic front, the chairman said “we must renew our commitment to collectively harnessing the vast and diverse resources we are endowed with in order to build a prosperous and economically sustainable society for both the present and future generations.
On religious preaching, he said,” we in Borno state have had a terrible experience when we realized, to our chagrin, that the Boko Haram insurgency and its deadly effects were the direct consequence of unregulated preaching, therefore it has become absolutely necessary to curb the excesses of our religious preachers by evolving a formidable legislative framework that could guide not only the contextual standards of the preaching but also its style and form.
“There is also the need to come up with 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 of the preachers towards inciting their followers and listeners,” Zulum said.
He also said the issues of rape and kidnapping was widespread in the region and a drastic measure must be taken the curtail the heinous crimes bedevilling the region.