Before I address you today, kindly permit me to play the full interview of Dr. Stephen Davis, the Australian negotiator who was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to help secure the release of the over 200 girls who were abducted by Boko Haram on April 15th.
The interview was aired on Arise Television on Thursday Aug. 28th.
INTERLUDE: PLAY VIDEO
Thank you for your patience, gentlemen.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) like many well-meaning Nigerians had resolved long ago that the issue of the Boko Haram insurgency should not be politicized. In view of this, the APC expressed its willingness and readiness to cooperate with the Federal Government in neutralizing the insurgency. Regrettably however, instead of accepting this offer of cooperation, the PDP-Federal Government has consistently pointed accusing fingers at our Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the sponsor of Boko Haram. They have called us all sorts of derogatory names, but failed to provide any shred of evidence to support their claim.
It has been very clear to us that the vehemence and persistence of this accusation, the deliberate distortion of statements made by our leaders to paint us as Boko Haram sponsors and the way the PDP-led Federal Government has gone to hire foreign PR firms, at a huge cost to taxpayers, as well as foreign and local hack writers to push this narrative, they were struggling hard to cover up something. We waited patiently knowing that the truth will one day surface.
In a rare moment of truth, a top official of the Jonathan Administration, no less a personality than the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Owoye Azazi, situated the Boko Haram problem within the PDP. Shortly thereafter he was fired, and he later died in controversial circumstances. Still we waited.
They distorted and misrepresented the statements made by our leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to try to convince the world that he was indeed the main sponsor of Boko Haram. They continued to echo the same slander about Gen. Buhari that was started by Presidential Spokesman Reuben Abati in 2011, and for which he and his cohorts eventually begged to settle out of court and to apologize to the General. Still we waited.
When their attempt to link Gen. Buhari with Boko Haram failed, as his popularity among ordinary Nigerians continued to soar, he was suddenly attacked by suicide bombers. Those who planned the attack believed this as the final solution to what they perceived as the threat he represents to the realization of their ambition. By the grace of God, he survived. We do not claim to know those who attacked him, but we do know those who provided the atmosphere for that attack to take place. Still we waited.
When the government declared a state of emergency in three worst-hit states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in 2013, thousands of troops were deployed to the three states. But the unusual happened. The number of attacks simply skyrocketed. It is common knowledge that in any territory that has been placed under a state of emergency, the military takes charge of security, erecting checkpoints as part of efforts to keep a tab on security. Such was the situation in Borno in April 2014, when over 200 girls were abducted and driven away in many trucks. Soldiers posted to a nearby checkpoint were said to have withdrawn shortly before the attack. Who ordered their withdrawal? Some of the trucks in which the girls were being carted away broke down, yet no one challenged them. Despite this bizarre occurrence, they refused to accept responsibility and continued to cast aspersion on our Party, the APC, as the sponsor of Boko Haram. Still we waited.
Boko Haram routinely enriched their arsenal with tanks, Armoured Personnel Carriers, guns, trucks and other military equipment which they seized from the Army. From the videos they release from time to time, one could see Boko Haram insurgents driving around unchallenged in convoys of up to 60 vehicles made-up of tanks and other military vehicles they seized from our military, in a territory that is under a state of emergency. What is happening? No one could fathom it. Still we waited.
A man known to all as the kingpin of Boko Haram, a man who helped to arm them so he could win elections and decimate his opponents, was moving around with the best security ever. He is a known ally of the President and he is not known to be under any immunity. Yet he was never arrested or even questioned. Still we waited.
In line with a Yoruba adage that says when a drum starts sounding too hard, it is about to burst, the PDP and the Presidency ratcheted up their attacks on our party, labelling us as Boko Haram sponsors. They hired a foreign firm, Levick, for US$1.2 million in taxpayers’ money, as well as a number of out-of-luck hack writers and pseudo analysts, one of them from Russia, to help push the narrative. Still we waited.
Then their drum exploded!
Dr. Stephen Davis, a man hired by the President Jonathan-led Federal Government to negotiate with Boko Haram for the release of the Chibok girls decided to speak out, believing the best way to tackle the insurgency is to expose the sponsors. And who are they? On international television last Thursday, and as you have just seen and heard, he named former Borno Governor Ali Modu Sheriff and a former Army Chief, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, as the sponsors of Boko Haram.
Prodded by Sahara Reporters in a subsequent interview on whether Gen. Buhari and Malam Nasir el-Rufai were sponsors, he said the Boko Haram commanders who gave him the names of their sponsors did not mention their names. The die is cast. The truth is finally out! Boko Haram sponsors have been exposed. They are within the ruling PDP. They are friends of President Jonathan. He cannot pretend not to know who they are and what they have done and are still doing. His myriad of intelligence agencies, including the DSS and the DMI, cannot pretend they do not have any information on these men.
It is true that Ali Modu Sheriff was, until recently, a member of our Party. But the Party always suspected that he was a mole, planted to hijack or at best weaken the new Party for the PDP. He is not new to that role. He helped to decimate his former party, the ANPP, to an extent that the number of states under its control fell from seven in 2003 to three by the time he left as Governor.
We know for sure that Ali Modu Sheriff was planted in the APC to help decimate our party. We confronted him openly during the merger negotiation but he denied vigorously. His surrogate for the post of the Chairman of the APC, Chief Tom Ikimi together with whom they planned to hijack the Party for the Presidency was firmly rejected. Realizing they have failed, they fled our party and returned to where they came from, and were duly embraced by their controllers.
President Jonathan cannot pretend not to know the alleged role that Ali Modu Sheriff has played in the establishment and growth of Boko Haram, yet he never allowed the man to even be questioned by any of the security agencies under his control. All through his time with our Party, every time they accused us of sponsoring Boko Haram, on the basis of his presence, we challenged them if they had evidence to arrest any of our members who is suspected to be a sponsor, they never did. They dared not, because Sheriff was their agent. Even if he had remained in the APC after we democratically encouraged him to go, they would still not have arrested him.
Recall, gentlemen, that immediately Sheriff went back to the PDP, the Maiduguri Airport that had been closed to even the pilgrims from the state on grounds of security, was re-opened specially for him. What more evidence does anyone need that Sheriff was and remains President Jonathan’s Man Friday?
The truth is finally out. We have been vindicated. We have no hand in the Boko Haram insurgency. The raison d’etre of our party is the well-being and security of Nigerians
The sponsors of Boko Haram are within the PDP and the Presidency. They are known friends of President Jonathan. He knows them and they know him.
The man who exposed these Boko Haram sponsors is a Jonathan-appointed Negotiator. He has no axe to grind, neither does he have any motive to shield the APC or portray the PDP/Presidency in bad light. In fact, if he had any sympathy at all, it is for the man who hired him, President Jonathan.
We have said it all along. Boko Haram was politicized purely for one reason, and one reason only: To be used as a trump card for President Jonathan to win another term. For that strategy to work, the APC, which they see as the only stumbling block to the PDP’s victory in 2015, must be maligned and labeled. Gullible, duplicitous and self-serving politicians like Femi Fani-Kayode swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker, and started parroting the glaring lies. PDP spokesman Olisa Metuh, an obvious pawn on the chess board, followed suit, labelling a party that comprises Nigerians of all ethnic and religious hue a Janjaweed and Islamic party. Now he is stewing in his own juice.
In the process of this dangerous politics, the Nigerian military which was globally acclaimed for its impressive showings at various peacekeeping missions around the world, simply suffered collateral damage. Apparently, fifth columnists in the military has sold the force out, first by denying it of the necessary fighting tools and then weakening it to such an extent that even the little it had was being taken away daily by insurgents. When the patriotic Gov. Kashim Shettima of Borno tried to raise the issue of the poorly-equipped troops and their low morale, he was roundly pilloried. Now the world knows why!
Now that the cat has been let out of the bag and the real sponsors of Boko Haram have been exposed, we hope President Jonathan will summon the courage to do the right thing: Hand over the identified Boko Haram sponsors to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation and prosecution.
There is no doubt that Boko Haram has committed crimes against humanity in its scorched-earth campaign against unharmed citizens, and the most appropriate body to investigate and try the sect’s sponsors is the ICC.
According to Article 17 of the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, and to which Nigeria is signatory, the ICC is a court of last resort, expected to exercise its jurisdiction only if states themselves are unwilling or unable genuinely to investigate and prosecute international crimes.
In view of the fact that the alleged Boko Haram sponsors are either members of the ruling party or friends of the President, it is clear that the PDP-led Federal Government is unwilling and unable to try them, hence our call.
Nigerians can rest assured that the APC will not allow this issue to be swept under the carpet.
Now that it is clear that the PDP is behind Boko Haram for the sole purpose of winning next year’s Presidential Election, Nigerians must prevail on the PDP and the Presidency to urgently end this insurgency and the daily killing and maiming of innocent Nigerians!
The President must remember that he is the Commander-in-Chief! The buck stops on his desk. He must now do all it takes to stop the growing mess in our nation’s North-East.
Nigerians expect no less!
Being text of a Press Conference addressed by the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.