- Former President Obasanjo has shared some of his discussions with some Boko Haram members he met in 2011
- The elder statesman said apart from being interested in Sharia, the group complained that their followers had no job
- Obasanjo also spoke on some factors that made the Boko Haram crisis in the northeast to go out of hand
Obasanjo had met with members of the sect and some family members of Mohammed Yusuf, founder of the group, according to Daily Trust.
Legit.ng gathers that the 2011 meeting held at Yusuf’s family members at Railway Quarters, the demolished headquarters of the sect, and lasted about 90 minutes.
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What transpired at the meeting
It was gathered that Obasanjo urged the Boko Haram members to forgive and forget the past. He was quoted to have said at the meeting:
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“This is a personal initiative. I urge you to forgive and forget the past. I plead with you, give me the chance to mediate between the family and government.”
Replying the former president, Babakura Fugu, Yusuf’s brother-in-law, whose father was executed in 2009, had said:
“Since 2009, this is the first time any high profile figure would be commiserating with the family.
“We are happy with this visit. About 30 to 40 per cent of our members are scattered in neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun.”
However, Fugu was reportedly killed 24 hours after Obasanjo’s visit.
My fear about Boko Haram has materialised - Obasanjo
At the Murtala Muhammed foundation lecture on Monday in Abuja, Obasanjo said his fear about Boko Haram insurgency had materialised with their links with international terrorist organisations.
He said the group did not have external connection at the time he met with them.
The former president said the poor handling on the part of the government made the crisis to go out of hand. He also blamed insecurity in the country on the access to weapons after the Nigerian civil war.
“We are not going anywhere until we take national building seriously. Justice and equity. We must build a society where everyone feels it has a stake. The insecurity in the country was caused as a result of the ease to access weapons and since then we have been unable to address the issue; it keeps getting worse.
“In 2011 when Boko Haram was just rearing its ugly head, I went to Maiduguri to try and find out a little bit more about Boko Haram and to also find out what their objective was apart from being interested in Sharia, they also complained that their followers had no job and, in their effort, to getting something legitimate efforts to help their members.
“In the process the government started chasing them and gunning them down. What I feared at that time seem to have been happening at that time, Boko Haram had not much external connections then, the ones they had would be Nigerians who had resources abroad, who were helping them.”
What Nigeria must do to defeat Boko Haram - Obasanjo
Meanwhile, in a previous exclusive report by Legit.ng, Obasanjo said military might alone cannot win the war against terrorism.
The ex-leader advised the government to deal with genuine issues of socio-economic development which have created the fertile ground for domestic terrorism to thrive.
He also spoke on an array of issues in Nigeria ranging from President Buhari's government and his choice of ministers to how he felt when a court restrained him from publishing his autobiography titled 'My Watch', among others.