Middle Belt Dialogue (MBD), has accused the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) of protecting Boko Haram, stating that the only concern of the Forum is how to grab power in 2015.

In a statement issued at the weekend by its spokesperson, Rima Shawulu Kwewum, MBD criticized the NEF for faulting the State of Emergency declared by President Goodluck Jonathan in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, adding that the NEF speaks not for them but for Muslims and their political interests.

For its part, MBD declared that Boko Haram deserves to be crushed out of Nigeria to make way for a peaceful and purposeful nation that is not indexed on religion, ethnicity or region.

“Erstwhile controversial Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Dr. Ango Abdullahi, who has transmuted into the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has been in the news of late, castigating President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, declaring war and presumptuously speaking for the "North," the statement said.  “We are in a new world, where presumably the rights of people, including the right to speak, however untruthfully, are respected. However, the freedom to speak precludes speaking for people who have not mandated you to speak for them. We, in the Middle Belt, the primary victims of the ethnic and religious cleansing embarked upon by Boko Haram and associated groups, have not mandated Ango Abdullahi to speak for us.”

Drawing attention to recent statements by Dr. Abudullahi, notably in Vanguard newspaper of May 17, the group said it was not surprised that the NEF is concerned about protecting Boko Haram but is not bothered about the Christian victims of the Boko Haram insurgency and the ethnic groups of Northern Nigeria, asserting that the militants are only acting out a script Northern leaders wrote for them.

“For sometime now, in central and northern Borno State, commercial vehicles are stopped, Christians separated from Muslims and summarily executed; churches are primarily targeted for destruction and attack. Boko Haram members we are told, [have] a camp where they keep kidnapped Christian women and children, and at such camps, they execute Christians who refuse to renounce their faith.”

Drawing attention to the atrocities committed so far by Boko Haram, MBD expressed regret that Ango Abdullahi and his wayfarers have seen nothing wrong with its ethnic and religious cleansing programme, and have neither condemned the killers nor sympathized with the victims.

MBD further said that for the sake of peace, its members had thought that President Goodluck Jonathan should be given the chance to proceed with the amnesty programme, but pointed out that after the announcement of amnesty, Boko Haram ridiculed Nigerians and the President by saying that it was the Nigerians which needed amnesty.

“We doff our cap to President Goodluck Jonathan, for sending troops after, the groups, which have denounced the sovereignty of Nigeria by hoisting strange flags on our motherland. Or is Ango Abdullahi supportive of the atrocities of Boko Haram, including the hoisting of the strange flags , because Boko Haram is carrying out Ango Abdullahi's treatise, which he expoused on May 1, 2013, when he said that the 1914, amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorate of Nigeria was a "mistake"?  In any case, why would President Goodluck Jonathan treat Boko Haram differently from the way other insurgents in the past have been treated?

“Was the 7-day rebellion of Isaac Adaka Boro not crushed by the military?” the group asked.  “Was Biafra not crushed by the military for hoisting a strange flag?  Did President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, and earlier, President Olusegun Obasanjo not send Nigerian troops - air, land and sea -against the Niger Delta militants?”

The group called on Nigerians to pray and work for the total defeat of the ‘retrogressive’ Boko Haram agenda.

“We need a new Nigeria, where every tribe, religion and group would be accorded equal rights, a Nigeria where religion or tribe will not be the basis for promotion or demotion. Indeed, a Nigeria where all parts and peoples would be humanely treated and people will live in any place of their choice, freely choose and change their faith without fear of molestation and bombings.”

MBD reassured President Jonathan of its continuous support through this challenging period, although, it noted, it has not fared well in terms of patronage by his government.

Expressing gratitude that some money has been released to ameliorate the conditions created by the post-election violence, it urged him to ensure that the governors do not deny the Churches and the Christians, who are the primary victims of that violence, their due.

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