Tony John, Port Harcourt, Noah Ebije, Kaduna and David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi

Former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has expressed concerns over worsening insecurity in the country.

Abubakar, at a ceremony marking the first Founders’ Day of Pamo University of Medical Sciences (PUMS), Port Harcourt, Rivers State, called for greater commitment in the fight against insecurity.

He said Nigerians have been praying for the peace of the country, noting, however, that success in the fight should be considered a  collective responsibility of all Nigerians.

“It is high time we stood up to fight this insecurity in the country. We are all praying for peace to return to this country,” the former head of state, chancellor and chairman of the board of trustees  of PUMS, said.

Following worsening insecurity in Nigeria and a recent video clip released by the leader of the Boko Haram terror group, Abubakar Shekau, Muslim scholars (Ulama) have challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to rejig his security strategy.

They said the video clip by Shekau was proof that the Federal Government had failed in the fight against Boko Haram and other violent criminals.

Secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Shai’ah in Nigeria (SCSN), Nafi’u Baba Ahmad, at a press conference yesterday,  reminded President Buhari of his 2015 campaign promise to end Boko Haram, saying he should match words with action.

“Few days ago, Nigerians were rudely shocked by the release of a video clip by the leader of the Boko Haram in which he confessed to the killing of a founding member of this council, Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam, and issued threats to another member of the council who is also a serving minister. The release of the video clip itself is a sad indication of the evident failure of the strategies and efforts of the government in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency in particular and the myriad of equally horrendous security threats bedevilling the country.

“The council observed that, in the early years of this administration, the insurgency had de-escalated to the barest minimum, which was commendable, but, of recent, due to obvious security lapses, the insurgents are gradually gaining ground, which is a sad development. The threats expressed by Shekau are not only directed at the minister specifically mentioned, but to the whole congregation of the Ulama, to silence the voices of Da’awah and intimidate the Ulama as a whole. This has added another dimension to the challenge of tackling the security threat posed by the senseless deviant group, which has defied resolution, in spite of repeated assurances by the government to end the insurgency. The very latest in this dreadful and unfortunate calamity happened just yesterday in Gwoza, where the Boko Haram bombed a mosque all in the name of Islam.

“Accordingly, the council has resolved that it is time to call Shekau’s bluff by challenging him to come out of hiding, accept a muqaabalah (intellectual challenge) on their crooked aqeedah (religious ideology) with the rest of the Ulama (Muslim scholars).

“Shekau should be bold enough to face the security forces, if he is truly the courageous leader of Boko Haram he claims to be.

“Shekau’s gleeful confession to the brutal murder of Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam revealed his clear ignorance of the teachings of Islam, which he claims to champion. In Islam, it is a meritorious act to die as a martyr; and there are perhaps only few examples,  at least in recent history, that equal the martyrdom of Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam who was killed in cold blood, reciting the shahada, while leading the fajr (early morning) prayers on a Friday.

“The council wishes to call on the President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces to note the unequivocal confession by the Boko Haram leader on the gruesome murder of Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam in 2007 is not only a threat to Muslim communities and their scholars, but equally a threat to the entire nation for extending his threat to a Minister and the President of Nigeria.

“President should recall his campaign promise, which he reiterated in his May 2015 inaugural address, to act decisively to crush the Boko Haram insurgency and restore order, and to please listen to the shrill cries of the victims and the loud appeals and pleas by Nigerians to radically restructure the leadership of the security agencies, examine alternative approaches and options in resolving the current security challenges and call the service chiefs to account.”

Anglican communion speaks

Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Diocese of Ogbaru, Anambra State, yesterday, described Nigeria as a country at a dark crossroads.

Bishop of the diocese, Rt. Rev. Prosper Amah, who expressed shock over the crumbling security situation in Nigeria, called on the Federal Government to listen to the cry of the masses by reviewing the security architecture in the country to make the necessary changes on the composition of the service chiefs.

He told journalists at the Basilica of St. James Cathedral, Atani, in Ogbaru Local Government Area, that what Nigeria needed now was divine and international intervention to save the country from collapse.

The service chiefs, Gabriel Olonisakin, chief of defence staff; Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff; Sadique Abubakar, chief of air staff; and Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, chief of naval staff, were due for retirement, having spent more than 35 years in service.

Some lawmakers and other Nigerians have asked the President to sack the service chiefs over the security challenges in the country.

But the Presidency condemned the calls, saying beneficiaries of Boko Haram were inciting protests against the service chiefs.

“Nigeria, I must say, is gradually being consumed by insecurity. We are at a dark crossroads and in reverse gear without steering. We do not know who is leading us now. We are in confusion, that is where we are now.”

The bishop noted that Nigeria’s frightening security challenges had led to malfunction of many sectors in the country, from the executive, legislature to the judiciary, all seemed not to be working. He insisted that no sector was working in Nigeria: the judiciary seemed to be gambling and no longer independent, the legislature, he also noted, had become a rubber stamp, as the executive was busy fighting and calling those who were criticizing it or suggesting the way forward all sorts of names, “with the presidential media aides behaving like touts and castigating whoever has different views from theirs.”

“Security has totally broken down, education is in grievous disarray, as 85 per cent of Nigerians seek educational admission outside Nigeria, even in Ghana.

“The judiciary is no longer independent. You hear conflicting judgments here and there, as if they are gambling. Nigerians have demanded for the removal of the service chiefs, following the crumbling security situation of the country and, instead of the government doing the needful, they are busy issuing threats to the people.

“The service chiefs have overstayed and Mr President must learn how to listen to the masses and not the advisers by removing them. They must go before the country is finally consumed,” the bishop said.

I’ll challenge Buhari’s refusal to sack them –Falana 

Incidentally, Femi Falana (SAN), has vowed to file a suit to challenge President Buhari’s refusal to sack the service chiefs.

Falana described the statement by the Presidency cautioning citizens from protesting against the service chiefs as an “embarrassment.”

He said a suit would be filed this week to challenge the President’s decision to keep the service chiefs.

“Under the public service rule, under the harmonised rules for military officers in Nigeria and under Section 6 of the Armed Forces Act, which empowers the President to make rules and regulations for the military, there is no provision for extension of tenure (for service chiefs) beyond the period stipulated by law,” he said.